When surf spots undergo metamorphosis, it’s usually sudden, rather than gradual.
The 2007 Indonesian earthquake lifting the reefs at spots like Nias and Macaronis, making them heavier waves than previously, comes to mind as natural phenomena.
Alas, improvements to breaks by natural agents are vastly outnumbered by damage done by human developments.
At the far east end of the North Shore, a spot named after a Californian longboarder saw a property development in the early 2000’s not so much alter the way the wave breaks, but rather manifest a kind of vibe gentrification.
What was once regarded as one of the most underground, intimidating spots on the North Shore, possibly anywhere, suddenly found it’d had its edges somewhat smoothed.
In 1957, Dale Velzy, pioneering surfer, shaper and businessman paid for Bruce Brown’s film camera gear by way of sponsoring Slippery When Wet, Brown’s first film. Shooting on the North Shore that winter, Velzy’s sessions at the break located across the bay east from Sunset point gave rise to the name.
As far as blatant surfing colonialism goes, it’s up (down) there. Still, the name stuck.
A high performance righthander breaking over a sharp, shallow reef shelf, V-Land soon gained a reputation as a particularly localised spot.
While almost all North Shore breaks are fronted by high end, premium real estate, V-Land was located in front of far less salubrious dwellings.
A ghetto apartment block was built right in front of the wave, and an adjoining lot of white-painted wooden apartments at Freddyland, while slightly more presentable, was hardly The Ritz either.
In the lineup, assorted black shorted heavies, some of the very heaviest characters on the North Shore ruled. A super tight take off zone meant that regulating unwanted interlopers was all too straightforward for the Alphas Males, of which there were plenty to chose from.
Being sent in for looking at the wrong person sideways could be seen as something of a lucky escape from far worse consequences.
It was probably the last place on the North Shore you’d want to drop in or perform some kind of etiquette infringement on the wrong person.
Meanwhile on land, widespread rumours of day-to-day lawlessness meant it was an intimidating place, just walking down to the paddle out spot.
“Grandma Crack had her dog shot in the head by her landlord, a local surf heavy, for being late with her rent one time to often”
When I stayed at the Freddyland apartments in the mid 90’s (we paid $250/month for two people, and had an ocean view) our neighbour, a pensioner known as Grandma Crack due to her line of work, had her dog shot in the head by her landlord, a local surf heavy, for being late with her rent one time to often.
Stories like that meant V-Land had a rep as a kind of no go area. It was essentially the eastern end of the North Shore (technically the North Shore runs all the way to Turtle Bay some miles east) and as such had something of a frontier feel to it.
As for the wave itself, V-Land doesn’t hold big waves, won’t offer the huge pits of Pipe, Backdoor or Off The Wall, and isn’t nearly as photogenic as Rocky Point.
But at the same time, it’s about as fun as a 4ft right gets. Ironically, it was the kind of high performance wave you could in theory actually surf; whang a top turn, pull into tube sections. Skill-wise, you didn’t need to be a full North Shore hellman to surf V-Land.
You just couldn’t really get waves out there.
While the ghetto has long gone, replaced by upmarket condos, you’d still do well to mind your manners at V-Land, and it’s still a pretty good place to get your hire car broken into. You’re highly unlikely to nab set waves on good days when the OG’s are out, either.
But the days of feeling like you were courting disaster, simply by being there breathing air, are probably long gone.