There are a lot of good waves on this planet. Pipeline, Teahupoo, J-Bay, etcetera. On its day, though, none of them hold a candle to Skeleton Bay. That’s a big claim, to be sure, but where else in the world is there a wave that barrels for over a mile?
It’s a strange place, Skeleton Bay. The name itself was made up to keep the masses away — Donkey Bay is a well-known place, easily found on a map, so calling it something different served as a bit of misdirection. Sitting on the edge of the Namib Desert, it’s a cruel, unforgiving landscape. Constantly changing, the desert winds blow sand across this ever-shifting ecosphere. The wave itself wasn’t even on the surf world’s radar until 2008 — that’s not to say that Namibia wasn’t a surf destination, but it wasn’t… Skeleton Bay. Spots like Guns, Cape Cross, Thicklip, and Lockjoint were known, but not frequented. The Skeleton Bay we know today was still forming. But then, in 2008, Surfing magazine ran the Google Earth Challenge, in which people were invited to “discover” a spot on Google Earth. Brian Gable, a software engineer from California, submitted his find. Soon he, along with a handful of pro’s and a media team found themselves among thousands of barking seals, the desert wind whipping past them. And in front of them was a wave that defied all logic.
The rumor mill says the wave has actually been surfed since around 2000, and as is so often the case, it was mainly ridden by bodyboarders. But before that, it’s a bit of a mystery — so much so, in fact, that it might not have even existed. It’s a sandspit, after all, and as I said, this is an ever-changing venue. Mirage, the short film you see above, explores that mystery in detail.
“The two-kilometer-long left on the edge of the Namib Desert is in a constant state of flux,” wrote Now Now Media, which includes photographer Alan van Gysen, journalist Will Bendix, and filmmaker Calvin Thompson. “If satellite imagery is anything to go by, the wave we know today didn’t even exist 30 years ago. Mirage is a 15-minute documentary that traces the genesis of the Namibian sandspit and how it became one of the most sought after waves on the planet, as told by pioneering locals and some of the best tube riders in the world.”