That’s a heck of a ride!

Hawaiian surfer Koa Smith was in just the right place at exactly the right time to ride the wave of his life – and the whole thing was caught on video from two unique angles.

Perched precariously on his surfboard, the 23-year-old from Hawaii rode a wave off the coast of Namibia, on the western shore of Africa, for 120 straight seconds. He stayed upright for nearly a mile (1.6 kilometers) as he traveled through an unheard-of eight barrels – the hollow formed by the curve of the wave as it breaks over the rider’s head.

Almost as amazing, Smith and videographer Chris Rogers filmed the entire ride using both a drone that hovered overhead, and a GoPro attached to a mouthpiece that Smith wore while he rode.

“I’d like to think that everything I’ve done my whole life led up to that moment,” Smith said of his masterpiece over a one-of-a-kind wave last month, the likes of which has never been documented before.

. . .

The locale of his greatest triumph is called Skeleton Bay – a mystic stretch of beach fronting the South Atlantic on the western coast of Africa.

Don’t bother trying to go unless you know someone who knows the area. It’s a two-day plane ride from Hawaii, followed by a car ride through the desert, culminating with a journey down a stretch of sandy, unmarked roads that lead to the ocean. The final stop is at a stretch of beach where a lucky handful of surfers share space with hundreds of aggressive seal colonies, thousands of jackals and, once in the water, the occasional great white shark.

There’s more at the link.

Here are the two video clips of his ride.  Please watch them in full-screen mode.  They’re pretty spectacular.

I don’t know the specific location referred to as “Skeleton Bay” (at least, not by that name – it may be a relatively new name for an area previously known as something else), but I do know the Namibian coast on which it’s located.  It’s in that country’s infamous “Sperrgebiet“, or “Forbidden Area”, a diamond mining reserve that – at least when I was in those parts – was legally off-limits to all visitors except those with special permits to enter (which I had).  It’s recently been declared a national park, so that will open up access.

It’s spectacularly beautiful desert terrain.  The icy Benguela Current runs up the southern African coast, bringing cold South Atlantic waters into contact with the furnace heat of the lower Namib Desert.  The resulting fogs in the morning, as cold air collides with warm, are amazing . . . and the desert animals are uniquely adapted to that environment.  (To hear a desert hyena laugh in the pre-dawn glimmer will send chills up and down your spine, believe me!)  You can see shipwrecks here and there, victims of the Skeleton Coast (a name that technically applies to a more northerly part of the coast, but in my time was used for the southern Namibian coast as well by locals).  Some are far inland, as drifting sands have extended the coastline outward in their wake.

It’s a lonely, lovely place, with long rolling waves running all the way across the South Atlantic Ocean from South America, and up from the Roaring Forties, to collide with the African continent.  Congratulations to Mr. Smith for taking full advantage of them, and demonstrating his skill and endurance in the process.



  1. I seem to remember a 60's movie called the "Endless Summer" that had a location in Africa that had extremely long pipe rides. I don't know if it was a similar place but they were getting a hell of a ride.

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