No need to beat around the bush with a long list of adjectives and flowery phrases – this year will see a surf contest run off in the biggest waves in Africa. It will be very big, and it will be quite scary. There will be drama, danger, cheering spectators and stressing competitors. Most importantly, there will be a champion. This year the Red Bull Big Wave Africa, will finish off with one very stoked winner. The whole event, running through to completion, is a done deal. Here’s why.
This year, the eighth running of Red Bull Big Wave Africa, sees a radical new format introduced to give the event the utmost chance of running. The biggest format change is the waiting period. Instead of the usual 21 days, a relatively small window for any big-wave spot to stand to attention, the waiting period has been extended to nearly four months. Day one of this period is Monday May eighth, and the window closes on August the thirteenth. All in all, 97 days of possible contestable waves. There are 18 invited surfers and 20 alternates, all with rock-solid big-wave surfing credentials. The field is now wide-open.
The event location is Dungeons, the monster that is sleeping beneath the cliffs of the Sentinel at the mouth of Hout Bay on the Cape Peninsula, and that has the ability to awake and produce the biggest waves in Africa. The Dungeons Reef is the first sea bottom that the ocean swells hit on their path shore-ward. These swells, generated across the South Atlantic Ocean, hit the Dungeons Reefs and rear into giant right-handers for brave souls to ride.
Apart from the enormous waves there are a few other elements to add to the mix of bravery needed to attempt to surf Dungeons. The ice-cold water, the thick, undulating kelp beds that cover the inside waters, and the abundant sea life, including a few local sharks that prey on the seal colony. To ensure the safety of competitors and spectators alike a well-knit local water-safety team is in attendance for the day of the event.
Red Bull Big Wave Africa is the second longest running big wave event in the world, behind the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau event at Waimea Bay in Hawaii. There have only been two champs in the humble Sean Holmes from South Africa in 2000, and the tenacious Greg Long from California in 2003. This year, as we have already stated, will almost definitely produce another winner, and that winner will walk away with a first prize of fifteen thousand dollars.
This year the line-up is overflowing with red-hot big-wave talent from South Africa and abroad. The local contingent is headed by former event winner Sean Holmes and Durban’s Grant Baker, joined by perennial charger Jason Ribbink, and John Whittle, both from Durban. The Cape crew is made up of Mickey Duffus and Andrew Marr. The international field includes Australian hell-man Ross Clarke-Jones, former winner Greg Long from California, the fearless Grant Washburn, the confident Australian Paul Patterson, the unassuming Evan Slater and the brash young Hawaiian Jamie Sterling.
Cape Town’s legitimate big-wave legend and Hawaiian charger Johnny Paarman takes on the role as contest director, and brings his wealth of big wave knowledge to the party. Johnny, a former IPS competitor, has ridden Dungeons and numerous other big wave surf spots in and around Cape Town during his illustrious career and has competed successfully at spots like Sunset and Pipe in Hawaii. Johnny will be making the call, along with wave forecasting experts and local weather guru Steve Pike, as to the perfect day.
The water safety crew and medical personnel are all highly skilled and trained under Californian rescue queen Shawn Alladio to ensure that all contestants have top-end assistance available no matter how gnarly the situation.
The entire event, contestants, happenings and swell predictions can be tracked on www.redbullbwa.com, where current event updates and athlete profiles, along with other relevant information will be featured.
Full List of Surfers and Alternates:
Thomas King Kleynhans
Darryl “Flea” Virostko