Western Morning News 21 November 2003
Big Wave Africa 2003
International Invitational only, speciality event, Dungeons, Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa June 2-22, 2003
For seven years, Red Bull Big Wave Africa has offered top local and international surfers the opportunity to compete at the unpredictable, deep-water reef break known as “Dungeons”.
The event has earned International recognition as one of the longest running big wave surfing contests in the world – second only to the Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay, Hawaii.
Our roving big wave ambassador Chris Bertish recently paddled out on his ace to hook a few at feared big wave break “Cribber” in the UK. This simple deed worked everyone up into a lather in the land of lace and rolled up trousers.
Chris was clueless as to what the fuss was about.
A long and winding road to take off.
Big drop with large lipped roof
Can he make this wave?
Dispatches from the front line (up)
Howzit Spike …
Ha Ha Ha!
You wouldn’t believe how this whole thing got so-o-o-o blown out of proportion here. I still can’t believe it! This spot never gets surfed. People talk about it ALL the time, but like many places, that’s all they do, talk!
I have watched it and studied it every time it got to any possible size of breaking. It is very fickle and needs all the right elements to come into play at the same time, especially tide … and swell! It’s about a kilometre out in the ocean off this headland and that is half the sketchiness about it – a lot of water moving out there and no line up. You know, the normal deal.
Well, that day was a Friday morning and I saw it breaking from my window as I was about to leave for work. My appointment by chance cancelled. So lucky. I called my Sales Manager and asked if I could get the morning off, he agreed. Had to go borrow a board. It’s not easy to find a board over 8′ in Newquay. Paddled out on my ace, on some 8′ 6″ I borrowed at a shop, using my normal 8mm leash, not a big wave leash. It was very sketchy.
But I surfed for about 2½ hours on my ace, and it was unreal. Wind came up so I started paddling in when I noticed a bunch of people on the cliffs watching. Like 30 or more people. I thought something had happened or someone was lost at sea.
When I got in I realized they had been watching me surf! Ha ha ha, what a laugh! Couldn’t believe it … By lunchtime I had magazines and newspapers calling me from all over the country. I was like, you gotta be kidding, it wasn’t anything that spectacular … Next day it was on headline news on national television. I was in five newspapers across the country. Even a front page!
What a laugh … I just went surfing like I would back home … I think what made it worse, was everybody was saying how insane it was and I was just mellow about it … no fuss, just went surfing … Some guy wants to buy the board off me for 800 quid and for me to sign it so it can go in his bar.
2001: Big Wave Hunting
The Bertish brothers are Cape Town surfing royalty. It’s hard to tell of any of them have limits in big surf. They’re regal legends of this small town’s big wave culture. Sir Fers, if you will. Best to start with the eldest, Greg is a loon who has charged every wave on the peninsula as well as complicated open-heart surgery. Conn was an alternate at the Red Bull BWA 2000 and 2001, and has subsequently jammed a bottom turn into corporate life. He is the creative director of Saatchi&Saatchi Cape Town and is known to dabble with retro surf boards in serious waves. With these two as older brothers, it’s no wonder that Chris has always pushed the boundaries of big wave surfing. The youngest of the Bertish siblings has always proven to be an absolute mullet in big waves. In 2001 he went on a self-financed ‘big wave odyssey’ to paddle into the biggest waves the planet has to offer. This saw him ride massive Todos Santos followed by Macking Mavericks. Soon after he went to Hawaii and hit Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu. But Waimea has been surfed since forever, so he decided to break some new ground and attempt a paddle-in at Jaws, a wave that was dubbed unpaddle-able by the tow-in crew who dominate it…