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SURFING TERMS IN SOUTH AFRICA

THE SAFFA SURF TALK YOU’LL WANT TO KNOW BEFORE YOUR SURF TRIP IN SOUTH AFRICA

We’ve had the privilege of showing surfers from other parts of the world our slice of surfing heaven for a while now. It’s been a heck of a good time. One of the things our guests comment on or ask about regularly is the South African surfing terms they hear their guide use. Some ask out of curiosity, and others ask because they just can’t understand what the f*#k the guy is saying.

I guess every part of the world has its own unique surfing language, or surfing terms that are used in their local surfing culture. South Africans definitely do, that’s for sure.

surfing terms in south africa
“Bru, did you see that bomb?”

We didn’t really realize that we were even doing it- until so many of our guests called us out on it. When we shout things like ; ‘Ya, no, lekker bru! Check you now now. It’s barreling off its tits.’ – it’s only natural that first-timers need a bit of an explanation. That’s why we decided to put together a quick list of the most popular South African surf talk. This will help minimize confusion when you arrive, and give you a chance to brush up on your Saffa surfing slang before your surf trip.

SURFING TERMS & AFRIKAANS

Quite a few of these ‘surfer words’ stem from the Afrikaans language. Afrikaans is one of South Africa’s official languages, and a large part of the population uses it as their first or second language. Chances are, your surf guide will be able to speak Afrikaans, if you’re using South Africa Surf Tours as your surf guide.

Fun fact: There are 11 officially recognized languages in South Africa, most of which are only spoken here. Don’t worry though, English is spoken wherever you go, and all of our signs are in English.

surf talk
Photographer Simon Heale captures Cape Town’s beauty. Not a kak place.

POPULAR SOUTH AFRICAN SURFING TERMS

Aweh (uh-wear)

Hi or hey. Term used to greet each other.

Ace

Alone. On your own. “I don’t like surfing on my ace. ”

Amped

Feeling of excitement or stoke. A.K.A: “frothing”.

Ballie (bal-lee)

A middle-aged or old man. Usually someone’s dad. “Is your ballie coming with on the surf trip, bru?” Side note, we LOVE a ballie that froths on surfing.

Beachie

A surf spot where the waves break on sand or the beach.

Berg wind

Warm wind that comes from the land towards the ocean, usually from a North Easterly direction. This wind means good waves, especially if you know where to look.

Biltong

Not surf-related, but you’ll definitely hear this word on your trip. It’s dried raw meat, typically beef or game cured and dried with spices such as salt, pepper, chilli, coriander etc. Biltong is delicious, and a must-try on your Saffa surf trip.

Bummed

To be upset or disappointed. Hopefully not an emotion you’ll be experiencing on your surf trip with us.

Boerewors (boer – re –vors)

Farmer’s sausage – spiced & usually prepared on a braai (traditional South African BBQ). We generally eat it on a roll in a hotdog-style, and call it a ‘boerie roll’.

surfer words used in south africa
Boerewors, or ‘farmer’s sausage’ – a South African favorite.

Bomb

Big wave – “There are some bombs out there, man.”

Bru

Friend, mate, acquaintance, or someone you’ve forgotten the name of.

Cape Doctor

When a strong South Easterly wind blows in Summer. This wind covers Table Mountain with clouds (AKA a table cloth). This kind of wind generally blows for a few days , and helps blow the pollution away. That’s where the name ‘Cape Doctor’ came from. AKA: Southeaster.

Dik (Duk)

Thick, fat, big, or very. Can be used when describing the size or thickness of a wave. Could also mean being full after eating a lot, “I’m dik gevreet” meaning “I ate far too much.”

surfing terms south africa

Dodgy or dodge

Suspicious or sketchy person/ situation.

Doss

To sleep. “I’m going to doss hard tonight after surfing all day.”

Dwaal

Dazed. To be in a dream-like state. “You’re in a dwaal after yesterday’s full day of surf.”

Firing

Pumping, or really good, all-time conditions. “Hoek was firing yesterday.”

Full-on

A lot. Extreme. Annoying. “That guy was full-on.”

Gatvol (Ghut- Full)

Fed up or tired. Sick of. “He was gatvol of sitting in front of a computer all day instead of surfing”

Graze

Eat.

Hectic

Extreme or radical.

Howzit

How is it? How are you?

Johnny

A shark.

Jorl or Jol

A party or to have fun. “I’m having a jol” or “That party was a jol”

Just now

This one is pretty important. It confuses a lot of our guests. South African time is a little different to the rest of the world. Thegoodthingsguy explains it better than we ever could in this article: https://www.goodthingsguy.com/fun/south-african-time-explained/

 “ Just Now: Later.

If a South African tells you they will do something “just now”, they mean they’ll do it in the near future – not immediately, as in, “I’ll do the dishes just now.”

Realistically its an unknown amount of time… could refer to a few minutes, tomorrow or never.”

Also important:

“Now Now: Shortly.

A term widely used in South African conversations relating to the period of time which will elapse before the given task, time or opportunity will present itself.

The actual word is derived from the Afrikaans ”nou-nou” (which can be used both in future- and immediate past-tense) idiomatically used to mean soon (sooner than just now in South Africa, but similar to just now in the United Kingdom).

It’s more immediate than Now, but still may never happen.”

Kak

Shit. We use the term ‘not kak’ a lot, which directly translated from Afrikaans means ‘not shit’.

Klap

Hit.

Kook

A person who thinks he can surf better than he/she actually can. Talks a big game, but doesn’t deliver on the performance front.

Lank

Very. “It’s lank windy today.”

Las (Luss)

  1. To leave/ cancel something.
  2. Something that is a mission or not easy to do. “That 24 hour drive to Skeleton Bay Namibia was such a las, but so worth it.”

Lekker

Nice, good, attractive, tasty – pretty much any positive adjective can be replaced with ‘lekker’.

surfing terms SA
Image credit: Kak Slovakia Pictures

Lightey

A young person. The opposite of a ballie.

Mal (mull)

Mad or insane.

Man in the grey suit

A shark.

Mission

Hassle or pain in the rear.

Naught

No.

Oke or Ou (oak or oh)

A guy or man. “That is a leker ou” – “That is a nice guy.”

Padkos

Food or snacks that you eat when you’re on a road trip. Directly translated to “road food”.

Park off

To chill or hang out. Sit down and relax.

surfer talk south africa

Poes

Female genitalia or a disliked person. Used in the same way as c*nt is used in Australia and other countries.

Pumping

When the waves are very good or all-time. “Jeffreys Bay is pumping!”

Rip

To surf well, or to shred/ tear.

Robot

This one confuses our guests every time. We use the word “robot” instead of traffic light. Why? Who knows man.

surfing terms in south africa

Score

To get good waves. Something you’ll be doing a lot of when surfing South Africa.

Shame

Showing sympathy, or when you find something cute. “Shame, that’s not cool.” Or “Shame that’s such a sweet thing to do.”

Shot

Thank you.

Sif or seedy

Disgusting or gross.

Smaak

To like/ enjoy or be fond of something.

Swak

Weak or bad.

Takkies

Sneakers or trainers.

Tune or Choon

To talk or tell someone something.

Waai

To go somewhere or to leave.

Wettie

Short term used for wet suit, or a drink/ refreshment.

Zol

Cannabis, Marijuana, A joint, also known as Dagga in South Africa.

Yewww (youuuu)

An expression of excitement/ joy/ stoke/ froth when the surf is good.

south africa surf spots

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of our surfing language, it’s time to get yourself over to South Africa and test your new Saffa surf talk. Come on, it’ll be a jol.

Cheers,

Ru & Tray (South Africa Surf Tours)

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