Steve Hooper of Mossel Bay, South Africa, isn’t new to the world of surfing. Originally from Worthing, United Kingdom, Steve started surfing at age 15 because it looked like it would be “cool and a good way to get chicks.” Fifteen years later, Steve continues to surf, but for an entirely different purpose. Surfing changed the direction of his life, from Central America to his current home of South Africa, surfing has taken him on a journey throughout the waters of the world.
“It has introduced me to some of the greatest friends in the world. Most important, it has given me a love of nature.” -Steve Hooper
Steve shares his personal story and a few helpful details below with anyone planning on traveling to South Africa on their next surf trip.
Hooper recalls his favorite memories of surfing, “My first real long barrel sticks clearly in my mind.” Surfing at Elands Bay in the Atlantic Ocean, off the west coast of South Africa, Steve remembers everything about that day, from the way the waves were breaking to how the water looked with the light shining through it. Understandably, Steve decided to avoid disclosing his favorite spot to surf in South Africa, but did have some advice for any non-locals planning on hitting the waves. “If you are in Cape Town, then be aggressive. If you come to the Garden Route, then respect the line-up and you will be rewarded by the locals. If you come with an attitude, you will get nothing.” Citing his friends and young surf talent world-wide, as sources of inspiration, Steve says this about surfing with friends, “It’s so much better. It allows you to push harder than on your own because you are always amping each other up,” he explains.
With the known presence of Great White Sharks in South African waters, Steve said that he and his friends have seen several, including one that swam underneath him just recently. While he concludes that it can indeed be frightening, it’s not a game-changer when it comes to surfing. “To put it in perspective, most people do not think twice about getting in their car and driving somewhere,” he says. “Statistically you are more likely to be killed in a car crash than attacked by a shark. But no one ever thinks like that because they saw Jaws as a kid and it invokes a really unfounded fear.”
Despite his extensive quiver consisting of a 5’9 70’s fish, 6’1, 6’4, 6’6, 6’10, and 8’9 gun, Steve has never had plans to pursue a competitive career. “You must surf a certain way to get the best points, and, to me, that is not expressing yourself,” he explains. Although he admits that he does respect those who push the known boundaries by competing, that type of surfing simply isn’t for him. When asked about his favorite maneuvers, Steve focuses mainly on vertical re-entries, powerful roundhouse cutbacks and throwin’ spray.
Steve challenges non surfers when he said, “I would advise everyone in the world to try it [surfing] once and tell me it’s not fun. I believe getting in the water as often as you can, even if only swimming or snorkeling keeps you young at heart and cleanses your soul. All the stress of modern life and the boxes we put ourselves in are broken by getting in the ocean.”