DUNGEONS, big, perfect, but still as deadly and unpredictable as ever. John John Florence and Albee Layer made a surprise visit, joining the local chargers, Twiggy, Jem Johnson et al. and rookie Benji Brand out at the reef under the shadow of the Sentinel at Hout Bay.
For 17-year-old Benji it was his his first experience at Dungeons. "It was kind of an overload, I'd never even seen the wave before." He told us. "It was eerie and beautiful, so much ocean, the backdrop of the mountain like a giant, and me so small - it was almost too much to take in. The scale of everything blew me away."
“It was kind of an overload, I’d never even seen the wave before. It was eerie and beautiful, so much ocean, the backdrop of the mountain like a giant, and me so small - it was almost too much to take in. The scale of everything blew me away.”Benji Brand
Dungeons has a reputation for being shifty and unpredictable which Benji discovered to his cost. "I found that out the hard way. I got caught by the biggest wave I've ever seen close-up. This wave has so much force and nothing could have prepared me. I was also not expecting it to be so shifty. It's hard to know where to position yourself."
Aiding him in his rookie mission were the tight-knit local contingent. "The vibe out there is amazing. I've found the same at Sunset - the big wave guys are super nice - much friendlier than everyone scratching at Longbeach. Those guys have definitely mastered Dungeons though, whenever a bomb comes, they'll be on it."
When gently needled if he'd showed John John what-was-what out there? Benji replied, "Of course not. I know him from Hawaii and it was fun to find him out there. He was charging."
This swell came from a massive storm which crossed the South Atlantic during the weekend. "After moving across Cape Horn it followed a path towards South Africa, guided by a mid-latitude high pressure system." Says Francisco, MSW forecaster. "This was a serious storm with massive pressure gradients and an impressively wide fetch (more than 1000 nautical miles in diameter), which lead to a very wide area of 35ft+ waves."
"The first forerunners started to arrive during Monday afternoon and the swell peaked overnight with our model showing 17.5ft@18sec at midnight. Today the swell has started to ease gently but will still be providing plenty of opportunity for a few more sessions. Allied to this perfect swell arrival, the Dungeons surfers also encountered perfect wind conditions with a very light onshore. Ideal conditions for big wave surfing."
Photos: Ben Brown / itsbenbrown.com