Cape Town’s outer reefs have been firing this week with some belated swells and two epic big wave surf / photography events currently on the go – The 2016 Striped Horse Challenge and Rebel Sessions. As two of the only big wave surf comps in the country, The Striped Horse Challenge and Rebel Sessions have agreed to not only share the swell and the stoke – but judges and water safety as well. (So get your big wave entries in as there are major prizes on the line for hellmen and photographers / videographers alike).
Big wave chargers have been on edge this winter, waiting for their fix of the winter behemoths. But there have only been two notable swells this winter, mainly focusing in on Sunset with Dungeons suspiciously dormant. Until yesterday that is, when some giants awoke from the sea bed, clocking the buoys at about four metres, and crunching in between 12-14 seconds. Granted it might not have been the biggest Dungeons, but a good day nonetheless for big wave chargers to get some practice, get their pipes cleaned and test the durability of them lungs and bones.
Dungeons digs a solid west swell so having a south-west swell wasn’t perfect but undoubtedly, some killer waves were taken by the crew: a motley bunch of young and old, big ‘n small, local and those pulling in from further afield. Mixing it up in Neptune’s moshpit on Wednesday were the likes of Frank Solomon, Dougal Patterson, Ryan Payne, Mike Schlebach, Josh Redman, Jake Kolknik, Jason Hayes, Simon Lowe, Jeremy Johnson, Paris Basson (on water safety) along with KZN first-timers Richard Kidd and Mike Frew and a couple gutsy photographers and bobbing boatmen. Check out the gallery and get the full story below… [Click images for full size].
According to AvG, regular Zag scribe and Skom homeboy, Dougal Patterson really stepped up his game out there catching some standout waves. Dougal was riding a brand new 11ft board with unique fins designed by Donald Brink, a Fish Hoek local who now lives in California. Only 5-6 boards were snapped on the day (not bad for a session at the Dunge)… unfortunately one of them was Dougal’s baby, on just his second wave – R11000 snapped at the waist. “That was a sucky one,” says AvG. “But as soon as Dougal broke his board Jason Hayes paddled out to him and lent him his board and for the rest of the day Dougal caught some gnarly waves on Jason’s board (without breaking it),” says AvG.
Snapped boards and bank accounts aside, according to the team (and the pictures), there were no hectic wipeouts or hold downs… well except for KZN first-timer, Mike Frew. “It was very intimidating at first,” says Mike, “but managed to get around fifteen waves. Had my first ever proper two wave hold down where you have to climb your leash to get to the surface, have read about that sort of thing before but never experienced it. The wipeouts push you really deep, which us Durban guys aren’t used to,” said Mike after his marathon six hour session.
Luckily when you’re driven 20 meters under with the ocean sitting on your chest, there’s someone up top on a jetski who’s got your back… One of the big wave guardian angels out there was Paris Basson, the official water safety man for the Striped Horse Challenge and Rebel Sessions. “Paris sits out there all day on his ski, giving up his session helping others for Striped Horse Challenge and Rebel Sessions. He did a great job of collecting people,” says AvG. “Jake Kolknik, Jason Hayes, Simon Lowe and myself also helped with safety. There’s always just a great sense of comeradery of brotherhood out there.”
It’s good to see the old hunting grounds grumbling to life for the first time in 2016. Now hold your breath until the next swell and be sure to enter your epic big wave rides and videos/images into the 2016 Striped Horse Challenge HERE and Rebel Sessions HERE. No barriers to entry, just huge prizes to scoop for acts of foolish surfing bravery!
*Images © Alan van Gysen