We saw some hardcore charging come out of Dungeons last week. We saw a few newbies claim their slice of the big blue pie, while the more experienced chargers fueled that first-timer stoke from the deeper pits. But whilst most like to train their way to their first surf at Cape Town’s big wave spots, there are some, albeit very few, who prefer to just wing it…
Cape St Francis/J-Bay surfer, Grant Beck just so happened to be in the near vicinity of Dungeons as she was grinding her wicked teeth. He decided a spontaneous dip wasn’t a crazy idea and sommer surfed Dungeons. We caught up with Grant to find out exactly what went down and why he digs getting hammered by big waves.
Zigzag: What brought you to Dungeons in the first place and how did you end up actually surfing it?
Grant Beck: I went down for the Billabong Dungeons for a day activation. We went out and watched the guys charging. After the Billabong activation we went back into the harbour and AVG had followed behind us, then in the harbour he asked if I wanted to go back out. And I was just like ‘Okay, amped!’ So I got in my suit went back out. As we got back out there I saw Ryan catch a bomb on the inside and we went to go and fetch. Then Ryan was just like “Okay Grant are you ready? It’s your turn.” I told the guys that I might not catch a wave. I just wanted to paddle around and see what it’s like out there but I really wanted to give it a bash. There were about eight guys in the line up. Mike Frew was out there and he just smiled at me and was like “Ja there’s some bombs”. He said he had had about ten waves and it was his first time too, so I thought I could maybe try one…
So you went from just watching, to paddling out, to actually deciding to try and catch a wave. And you did! Tell us about your first ride?
I just had this feeling. I’ve always liked getting hammered by big waves, it’s good for the soul! It makes me feel so alive. I’ve always enjoyed charging big waves in J-Bay but it’s totally different to surfing an actual big wave spot. I’ve always wanted to know what it would feel like. I just watched the guys for while. There isn’t really one take off spot so it’s a bit tricky. Then this wave came through and no one paddled for it so I just went. I paddled really hard and got in pretty early and kinda went down the wave, and yoh, it was super scary! I saw it ledging further down so I decided to do a bottom turn and get out there quick before it closed out. It was was such a good experience. Just taking off on this powerful, raw, big wall. It was intense.
Then you got nailed?
I paddled back out there thinking I was gonna try and get another one and surf the wave for longer. I saw these blinders breaking far out and everyone paddling further out so I paddled with them. Then I saw what I thought was a bomb, and no one paddled for it so I thought I would go. I paddled but I ended up missing it. Then I turned around and figured out why no one paddled for that first one, because there was a huge set behind it. I didn’t know what to do. I was definitely going to get hit by it, so I started paddling towards shore just to get away from it. Next thing this massive wave started bowling, I don’t really know what my initial thought was. I was just like, okay, survival mode. I had seen guys stand on their board and jump down just to get an extra metre down. So I just half did that, the wave came so quickly! I got absolutely pumped. I’ve never felt anything like that before. I was just getting thrown around like crazy.
Did you freak out and think you might drown?
I was kinda relaxed when it was happening, I knew I could hold my breath for a while. When I was under water I was just telling myself to relax. I came up and I was fine, then I saw another one. This one was even worse because it was further in. It hit me on the head right as it was bowling. And next moment I felt my leash snap, and I was just like oh goodness how am I going to get back up. So I was stressing a bit. Deep down I was fine, I just knew I was going to get hammered and come up again. And then the third one came and nailed me, I got dragged really far down under the water. I didn’t have an inflatable vest, I saw Ryan got really nailed without one and he was fine so I though okay, guys do do that. I came up from the third one and a guy on a jetski came and fetched me. When I was the sled of the ski I just saw stars flying past my eyes… It was such a good experience though.
Do you do much training?
I surf as much as possible. Almost everyday, whether its a fifteen minute session or three hour session when it’s cooking. But I don’t train for big waves. I’ve never tested how long I can hold my breath for. When I told my brother I was coming out to Dungeons just to watch he suggested that I try surf it because I can hold my breath for a while. That’s kinda what got me thinking about surfing there.
Would you recommend other people to give it a go?
I would say. It’s spontaneous. But if you’re not surfing a lot I wouldn’t advice someone to go out. It’s heavy! I’ve never experienced anything like that. But I knew that I could go out there and be safe. I’ve surfed some big waves before, maybe 10ft slab before. It’s not the same, but it gave me an idea. I have a 7’10 step up board/gun that I take out now and again. A lot of people say they start at Outerkom, then Sunset and then Dungeons. I don’t know what made me decide to surf it. I just felt it was a good opportunity and moment to try it.
After I got pumped by that set the guy on the jetski said that he had an extra leash for me if I wanted to go back out there and I just tuned him nah, it’s okay, I’ve had enough for the day. I’m done. I got a beating.
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.
*All Images © Alan van Gysen
**Featured Image © Mark Harley / Shotbru
***Disclaimer: Grant is an experienced waterman who was out with a crew of professionals. Zigzag does not endorse that anyone sommer has a go.