He spent nearly three decades “messing about in a blowhole” at Pollock Beach and – finally – Port Elizabeth resident Richard von Wildmann paddled his way across what is known by locals as Suction Pool.
A popular beach spot thanks to its tidal pool, perfect for the little ones, and rocks for the more adventurous, this feature opposite the Something Good roadhouse has always had an allure.
“As nippers we’d often sneak off to mess about Suctions, holding onto the wall when the swells would slam into the rocks and pour over us with ferocity. To a young mind, the five seconds one had to grip the algae-strewn wall felt like minutes,” von Wildmann, a keen paddler, said.
“Nobody knows if it’s manmade or natural, but it’s been there forever. The kids still love it and lifesaving coaches despise its pull factor. We’d push the limit, playing in the feature during king tides when the rock formation would get totally submerged.”
Von Wildmann said he, like many other paddlers, often dreamed about “running massive waterfalls”.
“It just looks so darn cool and exhilarating! In reality though it takes years of incremental trial and error to run the huge rapids and waterfalls our whitewater kayaking heroes slay on a regular basis,” he said.
“To be honest I don’t think I’ll ever get there. While on my honeymoon I witnessed a flooded Zambezi River roar over the biggest waterfall on earth. It put the fear of God into me. So in order to get my kicks kayaking I set my sights on something more manageable and closer to home.”
And so, von Wildmann finally tackled Suctions.
“In all the years I’ve been paddling surfskis, I’d never ventured into the Suction Pool on one. Main reason being that a proper carbon race ski is a delicate and expensive craft,” he said.
Then, along came a more durable ski made of rotomolded plastic and von Wildemann thought “why not?”
“On Friday September 30, channeling the legends we see in pages and feeds of C&K I donned a helmet, grabbed my Epic V7 and gave Suction Pool a go,” he said.
“Was I scared? Hell yes! But I’ll be back. Rock-Gardening [sea kayaking equivalent of white water paddling] is a whole bunch of fun when done safely and it’s a bug that has definitely bitten.”