ANTHONY Fox, liquor distributor, surfer and rising South African photog (who you'll be seeing much more of) had been waiting for this swell. The crew: Dave Smith, Jason Stevens, Matt Beatty, Sammy Leith, Sean Holmes, Lauren (Lozza) Irwin, Roddy Torr-Kom surf shop owner and general laid back cat and Mark Prevou. The location was a sharky secret set-up south of Cape Town and that's all the clues you'll be getting.
Roaring 40s juice
It all went down south of Cape Town on May 27th 2009, says Anthony. We had been waiting for the swell and wind to co-operate and made a plan to hit this particular spot as all the factors came together. It's not often that the wind (not too strong) and the perfect swell direction combine for this spot. The forecast was pretty spot-on as far as the size and swell direction with nothing counting in your favour like a little local knowledge of where to go.
We arrived at the parking lot to find AVG, Dave Smith and Jase Stevens milling around broken boards in a fretful state. Always a good sign. Had a look and thought we'd give it a go - the waves were quite far out so size was hard to judge - but it was incredibly clean with a gentle offshore. Very inviting and all good. AVG said he had swam earlier and had found it tricky as things were shifting a bit out at the back. I decided to give it a go and headed straight for the right before swimming swim across to get some shots of Sean on his forehand.
Roddy Torr, banks hard off the bottom on a solid right. The walls just seemed to line up forever. You had to swim pretty deep to get under the amount of water these lips were displacing - boards and leashes being snapped like twigs left right and centre.
Who's scared of whites?
A week before Dave and Chris Bertish towed Seal Island in False Bay, Cape Town. A notorious Great White breeding ground and also known as one of the few places on the planet where whites breach, getting fully airborne and confusing the hell out air traffic controllers.
Despite a fifteen minute swim against a strong rip I still felt good, that was until the first twelve footer, a wide behemoth came out of nowhere and cleaned us up. Jason on his second last board had his plug ripped clean out almost taking his middle fin with it.
A couple more on the head and I began to question what it was I was doing: Firstly, so far out in an above average sharky part of the coast. And secondly, at a place I had no previous experience of, with some sets unquestionably over 12ft unloading my head.
Above, Sammy Leith was knee-boarding a few years back and has since become a stand-up convert who's quickly made a name for himself in the Cape Town big wave paddling and towing scene. It seems to have rubbed off on his Kiwi girlfriend who was also out there on the day. She puts many guys in Cape Town to shame with her fearless approach.
Shot one: the drop
As the tide drained things got progressively bigger and rounder. The inside was a challenge to say the least - developing its own unforgiving agenda. Here's Sean setting up for a sick barrel sequence.
Shot two: setting-up
The current was gnarly here. I had to swim for a full 15 minutes against the current to get back into position after a closeout set.
Shot three: burning the excess
Shot four: in there
Shot five: shacked
The whole session made for some interesting situations and one or two heart-stoppers. I was stoked to make it back to the beach after watching some of the best waves and longest walls I've seen in ages with the whole crew charging. Including one Kiwi girl, a Noordhoek local who would put many a seasoned 'oke' to shame with her no fear approach. Watch this space.