There is no doubt that South Africa's Dungeons is one of the most challenging big wave spots in the world.
Double up drops into long walls and a close-out, it can be a navigational nightmare. But on Monday, competitors at the Rebel Sessions 2017 paddled into what some are calling the most difficult Dungeons they can remember. The stakes? R100,000 and shining a spotlight on SA's vibrant big wave scene.
The Rebel Sessions runs differently than usual big wave competitions. It is a one-day photo and video session, with surfers and judges reviewing all footage and then rewarding prize money across four categories; Dedication, Waterman Award (R50,000) Inspiration, Biggest Paddle Wave (R25,000) Motivation, Rookie (15,000) Consequences, Worst Wipeout (R10,000)
A committed crew of 20 invited surfers entered the lineup to find waves in huge, long period, shifty conditions, but persevered in an epic seven hour paddle-in marathon. Long-time Dungeons legend Simon “The Coach” Lowe said marked the changing of the guard: “The torch has well and truly been passed onto the next generation of youth guns.”
Matt Bromley led the charge, managing to catch many of the biggest and best-formed waves of the day, and ride them with his customary skill and style. Asked about his high wave tally, Matt replied: "You have to just want it really bad and put yourself in harms way to really get it.”
The old guard wasn’t going down without a fight with previous Sessions winner Mike Schlebach getting a huge barrel and also taking a nine wave beating that he called the worst of his life.
Mike said: “What an incredible day. I feel exhausted, sore and completely exhilarated all at the same time.
“The format for this event is the best way to run a big wave competition, happening as the surfers get to play their natural games. I think it worked perfectly and considering how hard it was to get waves, a 45-minute heat scenario would have been a disaster.
“This way, the guys with the greatest rides (even if you only got one) through the day get rewarded.”
Other young standouts of the Session included the likes of RRD surfer Tommy Kruger who’s persistence paid off with some notable rides after a long wait: “It was very challenging. It took me about two hours to catch my first wave. It was hard but all the guys charged and it was a good day of surfing, shot to Rebel Sessions for holding this.”
Another notable newcomer was Swedish surfer Odd Persson who also managed to rack up a surprisingly high wave count: "It was exciting, very exciting that was so much fun I really enjoyed it it was a long time ago that we had dungeons so good.”
A panel of three judges will now review the footage and photos of the day's surfing while participating surfers vote to award the R100,000 prize money. For more information and updates, go HERE.