If you read The Last Camper in the November Issue of SURFER Magazine you absorbed the fascinating history of Jeffreys Bay as seen through the eyes of its renowned underground surfing legend Tony Van Den Huevel. Back in 1964 a young 17-year-old Van Den Heuvel was the youngest member of the adventurous crew who discovered the world’s best righthander. Their discovery came just six months after the Endless Summer crew had unknowingly passed it by on their way North towards Durban after their discovery at Cape St. Francis. “The Last Camper” was a quiet tribute to Van Den Huevel and his amazing saga, which has been playing out in J-Bay for more than four decades. Van Den Heuevel, or “Doc” as he was known, was South Africa’s 1965 national surfing champion. He made his way around the world in the late ’60s before heading home to spend the rest of his years living underground in the dunes overlooking the surf at J-Bay. As the town evolved from tiny Afrikaan fishing outpost to surfing Mecca and finally a popular tourist resort the world slowly squeezed in around Doc, choking the dunes with development and sending the rest of his breed packing. Yet, up until the very end Doc remained a holdout to that magnificent bygone era of J-Bay past.
Just after the November issue hit newsstands we received the sad news that Van Den Heuvel passed away of an apparent heart attack. Details were sketchy but his body was discovered in the same campsite we photographed him in for the story in the November issue. Doc was just shy of 60. His loss has rattled the hearts and minds of many who came to know and love him through the years. As longtime resident Sharron Kraak said just a week before he died, “Tony is a town treasure.” Sadly, the last camper is gone now. The dunes, what’s left of them are completely void of campsites, and a huge hole has been left in the heart of Jeffreys Bay.