It's a cold and dark day here in Perth. As I look at the sea I watch the roaring forties rip apart the ocean, shifting sand dunes and making new sand banks. Seems like every time it’s onshore here I know where the wind has come from and it reminds me of South Africa.
This feeling came to me six months ago as I was about to fly out to Jeffery's Bay for what would be the surf trip of a lifetime. But perhaps first I should explain how I came to set my sights on a trip to Africa.
A few days before leaving I received a message from Derek Hynd saying, "Jordan, your board is ready, you can either pick it up here or freight it out." Instantly I replied, “Yep I am coming over,” not even thinking if I had enough money or would be able to get time off work.
I remember Derek trying to stop me from coming because the WSL contest was only two weeks away and it wouldn't be worth the hassle. I didn't care, I booked my ticket and I was off. Twenty hours of airtime and customs checks later, I was in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, entirely uncertain about what I was getting myself into. The only thing I had organised was a place to stay, but that got turned upside down when I received a message from Derek saying, "You can crash at my place if you like." I jumped on it and called to cancel my pre-booked accommodation!
As I caught my ride to Derek's place I remember I was shitting myself. I was about to meet the one guy I looked up to the most". As we were about to pull up to his place I could see him sitting on the top floor, looking out for cars driving by. I open the door, "Jordan right?" he exclaims, and I’m just glad he remembered my name.
I threw my stuff down and paid close attention to what Derek was about to say next. "The house rules are, this is your drinking cup, and that's it." It lifted a huge weight off my shoulder seeing how cool and friendly Derek was. As a few days went by before the first genuine swell bump came up. I couldn't sleep all that night. It could have been the jetlag, but I think it was more nerves. Knowing I was going to surf in front of Derek, I just didn't want to fall or do stupid shit out there.
I remember there was so much hype around that Mick Fanning was in town, returning to the scene of the incident that fleetingly made pro surfing the most watched sport in the world. All the shark talk played on my mind, but it didn't phase Derek one bit, so that morning we suited up in the pitch dark, running down the street towards the keyhole. "It sounds big Jordan, Don't miss the paddle out whatever you do," Derek warned. I ended up paddling out without wetting my hair. “You got lucky,” Derek assured me.
After surfing for a few hours I saw Fanning paddling out. The line up froze for a minute, everyone taking in his next move. I must have stood out like dog nuts on a cat out there, spinning and sliding around while the pros took the wave apart. Paddling back up to the point I stopped half way and Fanning joined me.
“Where's your brother Louie?" he asked. He must have thought I was Luke, Hynd’s brother, as I was surfing one of Derek’s boards, or maybe it was just Mick’s way of making a joke because I’ve got long hair like Louie. After we established I wasn't a Hynd, he asked to see the bottom of the board. I didn't know what to say to the world champion, as I knew Derek didn't want anyone to see it. In the end I blurted out, " Look I’m sorry Mick but I just can't." He looked shocked that someone would deny a surfing world champ the chance to see the bottom of a surfboard.
After I told Derek he couldn't stop laughing. "Great stuff Jordan that's classic," he chuckled. Afterwards he treated me to dinner at the local restaurant and I breathed a sigh of relief. It was like I did good and he could trust me.