Dungeons Finally Breaks

Dougal Paterson
August 15, 2023
FIRST TOW EVER: Young Sam Warren, up and coming charger of note, rode his first tow wave. Photo Grant Warren

At the tender age of 48, at one stage during Day 1 of Dungeons 2023 two weeks ago today when the Cape Town big wave spot finally broke, Dougal Paterson found himself the youngest surfer in the water.

Dungeons hardly ever breaks, but when it does, it’s measured in degrees of “terrifying”. Thursday the 27th of July would have been entry level terrifying if it hadn’t been for the wind. A steady cross shore in the morning that gradually swung offshore during the day. Most of the time our take off’s were close to blind. Not ideal. The waves themselves were in the 15-18ft range with some entirely square 20ft sets that no one even considered approaching.

It was a day for the old guard. At one point, whilst towing, I was the youngest guy in the line up. I’m 48. At 61, Micky Duffus was barrelled after being whipped into a runner by Twig (who is 51) My tow partner Darty Louw is in his mid 50’s too. Somebody asked “where are all the young guys?!” The reality is that Dungeons breaks infrequently, is horribly mutant and difficult to access. Sharing a beer after the session with Matt Bromley, we both rather sheepishly agreed that we were just glad the day was over. “Don’t you think it’s ironic?” Matt asked, “that we spend our lives preparing for this, but when we get there, we already wish it was over?”

Mike Schelbach is one of the best guys to ride waves out there over the last 15 years. But nobody gets immunity and his game was ended before it began when his board was ripped in half. Jacques Antoine took the blue collared route jumping the seal boat, whilst Phil Nel, Ollie Fuchs, Twig and Matt launched from a rubber duck. The youngest guy on that day was 19 year old Sam Warren who was determined to paddle himself onto a “crop-duster”.

However, the problem with those kinds of waves is that they … lurch. I saw Sam and 2 other guys thrown out almost into the flats and then viciously beaten when their waves lurched on take off. Biokinesticist Phil told me afterwards, “Bru I started preparing a rehab program for Frank Solomon after one of his wipeouts”.

For the first time in many years, our weather patterns seem to be finally bringing us the right mix of swell size and wind direction that mean Dungeons will get ridden a lot more in the next few months. It will never be the best quality big wave that Cape Town has to offer, but it will always be the most dangerous. The only thing that makes it safer is that it’s ridden by people who have dedicated a big part of their lives to preparing to ride out there. User discretion advised.

BALLIE BOMB: Grant Twiggy Baker was in fine fettle as he built upon his wealth of experience. Photo Grant Warren
Dungeons Finally Breaks
DART BOARD: Darty Louw drops down the face of a set wave as Mike Schlebach's board gets sucked over the falls. Photo Grant Warren
BUSTED: Mike Schlebach hitches a ride with Twiggy clutching the remains of the above board, which smashed in two. Photo Grant Warren