Bruce Gold – wizard of the waves

2019-06-06 06:01
: Surfer Bruce Gold personifies the true spirit of Jeffreys Bay: colourful and unconventional, yet with an old-world charm which enchants. PHoto: STUART WEBER

: Surfer Bruce Gold personifies the true spirit of Jeffreys Bay: colourful and unconventional, yet with an old-world charm which enchants. PHoto: STUART WEBER

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HE has graced the pages and websites of magazines, photographed by the best, been called a South African surfing legend and the last of the great surfing hippies, and had a do-cumentary filmed about him.

But you are bound to find the wizard of the waves, Bruce Gold, on his surfboard, helmet on his head, tresses streaming in the wind . . . being one with the sea.

Impeccably gallant, Bruce gets up as I come to sit down. I am startled for a moment, as one is rarely honoured with this courtesy, but then I realise he personifies the true spi-rit of Jeffreys Bay.

Colourful and unconventional, yet with an old-world charm which enchants.

Called the last of a dying ‘breed’, I deem he actually embodies what youngsters around here aspire to nowadays - rejecting rigidity, confinement and living up to others’ expectations in favour of becoming true and real to whom they were crea-ted to be.

At 71, Bruce still does what he loves . . . he surfs when it suits him, says he is still reckless, but does not surf Supertubes as much as “they take it too seriously and don’t like interference. We have more fun at Point.”

Glint in the eye

He holds up a bandaged thumb. “A dog bit me – a Boston Terrier,” he remarks, but quips that the owner should be glad she is attractive, or he wouldn’t have overlooked it so easily. “They were afraid the dog would die . . .”

Bruce shares his secret of extracting a pesky palm thorn embedded in his foot, “The doctors couldn’t get it out, but brown sugar and Sunlight Soap just sucked it right out.”

Affable, jovial and laid-back, Bruce smiles easily and chats comfortably. He drinks buchu kombutcha and reveals that he once worked on a buchu farm for two years.

He reminisces, “Miki Dora was there as well with Eddy Godfrey and me. Eddy wanted Miki to be his best man, but he never showed up . . .”

I do not delve into the past, as it is known he originally hails from Durban in KwaZulu-Natal and spent three years working as a police officer before becoming a taxi driver. Bruce first saw Jeffreys Bay on a family holiday in 1953, but in the seventies his visits became more frequent and extended. He’s never been married, “Because why make one unhappy when you can make lots happy,” he teases.

While we ‘kuier’, Bruce asks Amadeo Bisogno of Fifth Wave Coffee where we visit, for a black coffee - then savouring the black gold slowly, exclaims, “This is how coffee should taste!” That’s the wizard for you - who has been likened to JRR Tolkien’s Gandalf many times. “But I prefer Strider,” says Bruce, which makes more sense.

Skin and the sun

When I ask him whether he has skin art, he says no. “I never thought about it; couldn’t afford it. It was just a different generation then . . .”

He says he just has small spots of skin cancer.

Then Bruce gets all animated talking about his Doctor Derick Odendaal in Port Elizabeth who does not charge him. “He recorded the first operation which is now used on his website to warn people about skin cancer.”

In an early article I read that he believed sun block is poison, but when I ask he points out that he now favours Honey Shield, an organic, locally sourced product made from bees wax.

“I made my friend, Kurt, buy one from Country Feeling, as he kept on using mine,” Bruce chuckles.

I call Ernst Ohlhoff, co-owner of the company, who promptly join us for a cuppa – bringing him a pot of the magic stuff.

Bruce sums it up well: “We’re all living on hope here . . .”


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