All Photos And Captions: Ryan Miller
Julian came with his girlfriend, Ashley and his filmer, Jimmy — neither of whom had been to South Africa before. So here he is driving along, giving them the full tour.
This is New Pier, near the center of town in Durban. It used to be sketchy, but they cleaned it up when the World Cup came through. Every different culture in South Africa comes to the beach here and it’s a cool place to hang.
This is what Ballito is known for: a right, sand-bottomed heaving point break. The waves weren’t very good this day, but Julian kind of lucked into a few like this.
Barbwire is super prevalent in South Africa. There’s a lot of robbery so almost every house or business has this stuff. And it’s not your shitty little Mexico style barbwire either. This is the real deal. Everybody also gets these alarm buttons installed in their homes. And when you hit the button, an armed militia comes to your house. It’s like having a private swat team.
This guy was crazy. Just your run-of-the mill homeless dude with dementia. He was seeing things and talking to himself, which is pretty standard issue in downtown Durban.
Here’s our accommodation, right on the beach at the comp. That’s Ashley sitting and Julian wraps up a pretty long phone interview with one of the Australian magazines. I think he said his phone bill was $4000 last month.
This is Warwick Junction in Durban. These dudes were shooting some pool outdoors. All the people from the countryside come to town to work and those mini-buses in the background are to take them back out there. This guy wasn’t too psyched that I snapped this one.
I think Mitch Coleborn is putting a lot of pressure on himself to qualify this year. So after he lost early on in Ballito, he just went out and tried airs to blow off some steam. The waves were pretty terrible, with these crazy, dumpy landings but Mitch went for a couple sick ones.
This is just some art on a wall in downtown Durban. You can see a barbershop in a tent on the bottom right. Looks like you could score a pretty sweet Kanye cut there.
Julian’s been trying a ton of these alley-oops lately. And I’d never seen him land one until the final in Ballito against Jordy. He was comboed, then he stuck one of these, got another wave and actually had Jordy comboed by the end of it.
This was in our garage at the house. Just an impromptu photo shoot before we went out to celebrate his victory. Champagne was kind of our drink of choice this trip.
I love the way that a guy like Julian or Dane does these finners. Julian swung a couple good ones on this trip.
Julian’s using his new FCS system here, the one’s that you just pop in. He went through like three boards in ten minutes this day.
There were only two waves that barreled like this over the course of an entire 2-hour session. It was still pretty magical though. This was like a week after the contest had ended and Julian was the only guy out.
A few days after the comp, we went to this crazy safari park about three hours north of Durban. We got to see lions right up close in this open-air car. Here’s a couple giraffes, which are significantly less intimidating.
I absolutely love South Africa. Most places you go are either First World or Third World, and there’s rarely a true mix of both. But South Africa is wild because it has pockets of great infrastructure in the middle of this crazy Third World country. And it’s not just tourist infrastructure like in Bali or something — but real infrastructure for the locals. Great roads, great government offices, electricity, plumbing. The contrast is amazing. And there’s some really cool shit there. The food rivals that of any major metropolitan area anywhere in the world — I had the best filet mignon of my life for $11. And of course, the waves are great. So when Julian invited me to go and stay with him for the Mr. Price Pro Ballito and hang around for a few weeks, I was stoked. I definitely wasn’t going to say no to South Africa. —Ryan Miller