UNDER THE SPELL OF AN EPHEMERAL SOUTHSIDE WAVE
Most surfers have a wave which puts them under a kind of rapture. A set-up they find so seductive that they can never say no. If this favoured break is turning on then girlfriends are abandoned, work neglected and children made to sit on the beach and watch. The wave takes a hold and they’ll duck and weave just about any responsibility to make time for a few rides.
As the object of their fancy some surfers choose the obvious spots – the ones we’ve all read about and ogled at for decades, but there’s plenty of salt-water disciples who are devotees of waves less frequently discussed in hallowed voices.
My particular predilection is reserved for a small cove wedged between Bondi and Tamarama in Sydney’s densely populated eastern suburbs. To the urban surfers it’s simply Mackas, to the bodyboarders who capitalise on its beyond vert entry points it’s K-bay, and for the affluent residents whose multimillion dollar properties tower above, it’s officially Mackenzies Bay.
Perhaps the love affair many surfers have with Mackas has much to do with its ephemeral nature. Most of the time it’s little more than a deep-water inlet with a waveless Mediterranean vibe, where girls might take a leisurely morning dip, spear-fisherman hunt for a distinctly urban catch and property agents commission photos to inflate the value of the surrounding real estate. However, once every few years the volatilities of the ocean conspire to build up just enough sand in the coastal nook to create the most unique of surfing settings.
At its best Mackas starts as a refracted left sidewinder, which marries itself to a steep, pyramid peak. Once the two muscular bends collide the wave jacks violently and hurls into a thick-lipped keg that throttles
PERTH STANDLICK KICKSTALLING BENEATH THE HOOD OF A MACKAS HOOK AS THE ROCKS CHALLENGE HIM TO RUN THE GAUNTLET. PHOTO: MORRIS