Surfing break names guide to perfect waves
Scouring the names of breaks in Taranaki, a hopeful surfer may come across the likes of Bog Works, Graveyards and Spot X in the search for a wave.
For a local familiar with the area, the names of the breaks are simply that. For a visitor, though, they don’t exactly offer much direction in terms of where the break actually is.
Instead, they offer an idea of what the style of wave on offer is at the break, hint to its defining feature, or simply look back on the spot’s history.
Surfing Taranaki chief executive Craig Williamson says Bog Works, an iconic big-wave spot off the coastal walkway in the middle of New Plymouth, probably doesn’t have the most appealing back story.
“The raw sewerage used to run out of there back in the day, say 30 years ago,” he says. “So, aptly named Bog Works. The pipe’s still there. You can walk out along the pipe, jump off and paddle out to the break.”
Around the world, creative names are given to surfing spots when naming them after a beach simply would not work. A prime example being at South Africa’s Jeffreys Bay, where there are eight different breaks including Boneyards, Supertubes and Albatross.
There are plenty of creative break names around New Zealand including spots like Forestry near Wellsford, Titches near Porirua and Fossils near Christchurch.
Sometimes the break names itself.
“We have one around the coast called Fin Whaka,” Williamson says. “I mean, that’s pretty obvious isn’t it?”
For the novice surfer, it usually pays to steer clear of such breaks. While the swell on offer can look inviting from the shore, these breaks tend to be more dangerous, be it due to shallow water, rocks, swell size or currents. And with plenty of easier breaks to paddle out at, it pays to leave the more gnarly ones to the experienced riders.
In Taranaki, the likes of Fitzroy Beach are used as nursery breaks where youngsters can learn the art of the sport before tackling the tougher waves elsewhere. Fitzroy is one of the most reliable breaks in the region, often offering small and punchy waves, but it can get big and offer barrels.
Williamson says it’s the perfect site for learning the craft, and with Surfing Taranaki has established a hub at the beach from which to run community programmes.
“At the moment we’re focusing on youth at risk, schools, and learn-to-surf programmes,” he says. “The kids who start young, they’ll be lifelong surfers I believe, and what a gift to give them.”
■ Christopher Reive is a sports reporter for NZME
The style of wave, a defining feature or sometimes a surfing spot’s history can inspire the name of a break.