Unlike some of the other events this year, which didn't even come close to running, the Red Bull BWA had its share of false alarms. In early August, while J-Bay enjoyed its best run of swells in a decade, Cape Town got hammered by huge storms, torrential downpours, gale-force winds and a few windows of opportunity. During one giant wind/groundswell, the Long brothers, Grant Baker and a host of Cape Town locals towed Dungeons at a size rivaling last year's 50-foot-plus heroics. "Huge, huge waves," says Rusty Long, who injured his ankle and had to watch from a boat. "It was just clean enough to tow, and those guys were pushing it. Local Mike Schlebach got the big one and surfed it really well."
The Longs spent a good portion of the summer in Cape Town, waiting for the day of days at Dungeons and enjoying all the swells in between. According to Greg, the contest officials were - for the most part - accurate in their calls. "There was one afternoon in late June when it really turned on," says Greg, "and a few other swells just under the threshold. But there was never a full day of good, big waves for the event. Bummer, because there were really no shortage of swells. Just a shortage of days when conditions and swell all came together."
Female Brazilian charger, Maya Gabeira, also came down solo and logged in some Cape Town big-wave sessions with the crew. Rusty Long was impressed. "She's not scared. That's for sure," he said. "She paddled into some legit ones at Dungeons and had a good session at Sunset as well. Although there was one day. She paddled out at this heavy, super sharky secret spot because Twiggy and Greg said they'd be meeting her out there on a ski. Well, it took those guys, like, 45 minutes to get out to the lineup. And by the time they got there, she was out there by herself, just paralyzed with fear. This is a spot where tourists go to see great whites eat seals. It's that sketchy."
Aside from the big-wave bonding and shark tales (including another good "drive by" at Dungeons this year), it's another case of "almost was." Acccording to Red Bull officials, they're going back to the old format next year, where the invitees will hang in Cape Town for a month and hope for the best. One of these years, Dungeons will show what it's capable of for a big-wave event.
Until then, we wait.
For more info, go to www.RedBullBWA.com