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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Tue, 10 April 2018

There is a short film about the veteran Cape Town waterman who was the first to ride Dungeons. But it's part of something bigger, something refreshing, writes Spike.

Filmmaker Rick Wall is working on a project about big wave surfing in Cape Town. It is a film called Satori. It will comprise a collection of individual interviews with Cape Town surfers, and their connection with the wild blue ocean. The first one, Unoccupied Niches, looks into the psyche of veteran waterman Pierre de Villiers, who speaks of the time he first surfed Dungeons (he and Peter Button were the first to surf it).

However, herein lies the rub, you don't see any surfing in the clip. You see Pierre paddling / sailing one of his unique paddle-surf-sail-ski craft from Scarbs to Kom, while he speaks of how milestones (such as first surfing Dungeons) in life are merely gateways to exploring new things. His underlying motivation is to explore the true wild, which is right on his doorstep. This is what drives him, not surfing per se. It's part of the journey, but not the destination.

In big wave surfing you have to be 100% immersed in the moment. It forces you back into the present. And that’s where life is experienced at it’s fullest.

This is a unique deviation from tired cliches. There is something refreshing about Satori, and the manner in which Rick is making the film. There is a salty authenticity to it - the perfect antidote to the sycophancy you often get when the narrative obsesses with the drama of big wave surfing, while it labours under the unrealistic weight of expectation by sponsors and surf brands.

Those two don't mix too well. It can easily become a machine-whipped gloop - a mushy smoothie made with the tears of hipsters, sales targets and fragments of neoprene.

Satori, which is presented by Kommetjie Surf Shop and the Jack Black's Brewing Company, is dependent on a cracking winter of swell this year (and some further funding) before it will find fruition.

The word Satori, an ancient Japanese word used by buddhists means "sudden enlightenment". It's that epiphanic moment of realisation you get when the penny drops, when you suddenly wake up and realise, "same as it never was, same as it never was" (apologies to David Byrne).

To have the confidence to overcome your fears and unlock your passions you need to be completely present in the moment, which of course leads to your own enlightenment. As big wave hellman and adventurer Chris Bertish has said: "In big wave surfing you have to be 100% immersed in the moment. It forces you back into the present. And that’s where life is experienced at it’s fullest."

The inner workings of each person's connection with what they do ... that's where the magic happensIn a chat with Roddy Torr, I realised that this is a passion project, and it's going to be groundbreaking. The basic plot is about people who ride huge waves at Dungeons and Sunset Reef, but the inner workings of each person's connection with what they do ... that's where the magic happens.

As Meghan McCulloch, co-founder of Jack Black's Brewing Company with her husband Ross, a keen surfer himself, says: “The idea around this film immediately resonated with us not just because of our connection to the ocean, but also because of Rick’s approach to a story that’s filled with such deeply colourful and authentic individuals.”

This is director Rick Wall’s latest film project following on from his success with Tour of Ara. We will be releasing a film piece every month in the lead up to the premiere of the film in December 2018. For more information on the project please visit www.satorifilm.co.za

Instagram: satorifilm

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