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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Thu, 24 May 2018

Wavescape, Two Oceans Aquarium and NSRI are hosting an evening with six Cape Town big wave riders and small wave surfer Nik Rabinowitz to hear their gnarly surf rescue tales.


SOLO SEARCHING: Digging deep in big surf can be a life-and-death affair. Photo Grant Scholtz

NikRabinowitzOceans Alive: Tales of Surf Rescue takes place at the Two Oceans Aquarium next week on Wednesday (30 May) to raise awareness and funds for the pink torpedo buoys that the NSRI is rolling out along dangerous parts of the South African coast.

Our host, Nik Rabinowitz, is no stranger to surfing. He has had to dodge many "dangerous" surf situations in the mega surf at Muizenberg Corner. From the safe confines of an armchair, Nik will chat to a panel of Cape Town chargers: Mickey Duffus, James Taylor, Mike Schlebach, Greg Bertish, Ross Lindsay and Dave Smith. The guys will share stories of near misses, near drownings and how they coped with dings to board, body and boat when taming tumultuous surf locally and overseas.


SPIKED: Nik will be joined by Spike from Wavescape to introduce the tales Photo Thys Lombard

Spike from Wavescape will drive the AV and introduce each anecdote. Format is two sessions of five or six tales each, on either side of a half-hour break. The audience will get a chance to ask questions at the end of each session. Spike, who is more of a 'medium wave' surfer, was forecaster for the Red Bull Big Wave Africa for 10 years and likes to test the theory by paddling out when the waves arrive.

There will be raffles for swag. For those who sponsor a torpedo buoy can get larger swag, such as a big wave photo. The NSRI has been rolling out these buoys at beaches where there are no lifeguards on duty. Part of the evening's mission is to raise awareness of these buoys among surfers who we hope will take some custody over the buoys (some have been stolen).


RED CROSS ROSS: Ross Lindsay focuses on big wave safety in between surfing Photo Supplied

Ross Lindsay: Deep South local. Ross is better known as Red Cross Ross, otherwise referred to as a Big Wave Safety Expert. Another Kahuna who knows how to charge monster waves, but also knows how to pull his surf mates to safety. He is a thinker, and sensitive to the nuances of life. Furthermore, he has an astute understanding of the sports science that underwrites all the craziness in a heaving ocean. Ross’s surf CV is extensive. He has surfed every big wave, represented two provinces as well as South Africa in surfing, completed every rescue course, and has been tow-surfing for almost two decades. When not surfing or rescuing others he runs two big businesses. We assume he does not sleep.


MICKEY DUFFUS: One of the elders. Has surfed for close on 40 years. Photo Alan van Gysen

Mickey Duffus: Boland boytjie turned Kommetjie local. Married to a professor in Oceanography (very handy when analysing waves), Mickey has three cool kids named Finn, Jago and Kalani. He has been surfing close on 40 years, and was part of the original founding team of Red Bull Big Wave Africa. He earned his green and gold in 1999 as manager of the SA Big Wave team when Cass Collier and Ian Armstrong won the world big wave champs at Todos Santos. That is precisely when the world realised that Saffas could charge (dreadlocks and all). Mickey has been very involved in surf rescue since training in K38 using rescue watercraft. As a true veteran of surfing, he has much to tell and teach.


MIKE SCHLEBACH: The Mainskit has had his fair share of close shaves. Photo James Taylor

Mike Schlebach: Eco-warrior, chairman of the Cape Big Wave Trust. Let’s just call him SA’s Big Wave President. He is a Grand Kahuna (which in surfing terms makes him older than 45) and you can see that when he takes down Dungeons with his experienced, calm and controlled style. He has a big heart, and deep social conscience, with a deep passion for the ocean that manifests in his love for big waves and his business (Sealand Gear – we love their stuff). Mike won the best-surfed paddle wave at the 2011 Rebel Sessions Big Wave contest in 2011. (We just heard that Mike went and stuffed up his knee - so he'll have even more scary injuries to show and tell you about next week!)


JAMES TAYLOR: A burst eardrum and a broken back. Not a problem! Photo Supplied

James Taylor: Melkbos local. His medical file reads like a horror movie, including a broken back and burst eardrum. Definitely born without fear. He won the worst wipeout award at the 2011 Rebel Sessions but took the win for the biggest wave paddled into at the 2016 Rebel Sessions. His bravery/insanity has paid off many times over with some insanely amazing waves. There is much to say about learning to surf on a single-fin polystyrene board at the age of 12 – just ask James!


GREG BERTISH: This wipeout in Sea Point led to four months of rehab. Photo Brenton Geach

Greg Bertish: Hout Bay local. Adjusts his warfarin dose before charging big waves. Insane for sure. Philanthropist. Open-heart surgery survivor (hence the warfarin). Eldest of the Bertish brothers. That makes him a Grand Kahuna too. Greg is a serious big wave surfer, and just as serious about water safety. He is an SA Lifesaving Champ and represented SA in Stand Up Paddleboarding. He was knocked out cold by his own board at Dungeons and thanks to brother Chris and water safety crew Ross and Pierre, made it out alive. Greg is just so full of stoke and ocean passion, and we can definitely see that in the not so distant future there will be two more Bertish brothers charging some serious waves with their dad and uncle!


DAVE SMITH: A lifeguard in his youth, Dave is also a spearfisherman. Photo Nic Bothma

Dave Smith: Camps Bay local. Serious charger. When not dodging death-defying surf, he juggles a young family with a travel guide business for incoming tourists to Cape Town. He is ocean crazy, and a spearo, though not vegetarian. If you google "big wave surfing", Dave’s name pops up on just about every website. He seems to be on every big wave, especially those in the Cape. Kahuna yes. He is also a Clifton life-saving guru, with many years' service on the beach and in the kelp of the Cape Peninsula. He is a master on a jetski. What more can you ask for? Dave is the Man.

Tickets are R150 on Quicket. This includes general entry to the Aquarium, plus a light supper and surf talk.

Date: 30 May 2018
Venue: Two Oceans Aquarium, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront
Time: 18:30
Tickets: R150 per person. Click here to buy (cash bar available)

Proceeds will go towards the NSRI rescue buoy campaign, which features those hard-to-miss pink buoys launched around the coast in early November 2017.

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