Flea Virostko in class field for Red Bull Big Wave Africa
click image to enlarge
Red Bull Big Wave Africa 2003
Surfing South Africa (SSA) Speciality event
Dungeons, Hout Bay,
Cape Town, South Africa
June 7 - 27, 2004
Flea Virostko included in world class field for Red Bull Big Wave Africa.
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 19 April 2004: - - Darryl ’Flea’ Virostko, the planet’s most successful big wave contest surfer, has been added to the world class field assembled for the sixth annual Red Bull Big Wave Africa in Cape Town, South Africa.
Scheduled for June 7-27, 2004, the 21-day challenge to surf the biggest rideable waves on the coastline of Africa this year again sees six South African and six international invitees, all specially selected for their skills in huge surf, take on Dungeons, the deep water reef under the towering cliffs of the Sentinel at the mouth of Hout Bay on the Cape Peninsula.
Virostko, winner of the ‘Men who Ride Mountains’ event at Mavericks, the US mainland’s premier big wave venue, on each of the three occasions the event has been staged, holds legendary status amongst the core group of specialists that participate in the life threatening activity that pits surfers against the ocean when it is at its most powerful.
Photo Grant Ellis/Tostee.com
He will join an international contingent that is headed by 2003 Red Bull BWA winner Greg Long, the 20 year-old Californian who received the 2004 XXL Best Overall Performance award for becoming the first surfer to be nominated for both the XXL and Paddle-in categories, and includes other 2003 finalists in Carlos Burle (Brazil), winner of the 2002 XXL big wave award for riding a 68 foot wave, and Hawaiian star Jamie Sterling who placed third and sixth respectively in BWA last year.
Grant Washburn, the giant Mavericks rider who helped pioneer the Red Bull BWA event from 2000 to 2002, makes a come back after missing last year’s event due to the birth of his first child while the organisers have introduced Mexican big wave star Coco Nogales to the mix for the first time in keeping with their aim of fostering and encouraging the culture of big wave surfing on the Southern tip of Africa.
Another newcomer in Doug Young from New Zealand, winner of the paddle-in title in the 2004 Australasian Big Wave Awards, will also make his debut this year, albeit as an the alternate who participates in all aspects of the event such as the free surfing and practice sessions, safety training and contesting the specialty awards, but will only get to compete in the contest itself if one of the six international invitees is not available for whatever reason on the day.
Doug Young Papatowai, NZ. : photo Phil Erickson
(Click on image to enlarge)
The local crew will be led by last year’s runner-up and winner of the 2001 and 2003 Sensi Threads biggest wave award, John Whittle from Durban, who was also the recipient of the Deep Throat award for the most committed surfer during the waiting period in both 2000 and 2002.
He will be joined by fellow Durban chargers and 2003 finalists Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker and Jason Ribbink, with 2000 Red Bull BWA winner Sean Holmes (Wilderness) and Capetonians Mickey Duffus, currently on a two month stint in Hawaii, and 1991 world pro am surfing champion Justin Strong completing the local line-up.
Strong and newly appointed assistant contest director and big wave surfing legend, Jonathan Paarman, were largely responsible for proving that the surf at Dungeons is rideable by using boats to ferry themselves and their equipment to the break from Hout Bay harbour in the mid 90’s.
John Whittle : Photo © Grant Ellis / tostee.com
The two locally based alternates are Andrew Marr, formerly from Knysna but now a resident of Kommetjie, who arguably spends more time in the giant surf of the South Peninsula than anyone, and up and coming big wave charger David Smith who gets his first opportunity to spend three weeks surfing and socialising with and learning from this committed group of the globe’s finest big wave exponents.
Contest director Gary Linden (California) and local expert Paarman will be responsible for identifying the ideal conditions for the Red Bull BWA contest to be staged. The same streamlined format as last year – comprising two semi-finals, each featuring six competitors, with the top three finishers in each heat advancing to a six-man final - will again be utilised. By allocating around 60 minutes for each heat and a 30-minute break between the second semi and the final, the entire contest can be completed inside four hours.
Using state-of-the-art wave and weather prediction modules generated locally and internationally, the organisers track the conditions that fit the criteria – i.e. swells consistently over 15 foot (5 metres) in height that produce waves the size of three story buildings as they rear up and break over the Dungeons reef. The fickle nature of the winds and the life-threatening consequences of being wiped out in the mountainous seas, particularly in the icy, kelp infested seas adjacent to the Duiker Island seal colony, make waiting for the right conditions an intrinsic part of big wave surfing.
Safety also plays a huge role in the event and the 2004 Red Bull BWA event will again employ the services of California water safety expert Shawn Alladio, who, along with Cape Town’s foremost big wave tow-in crew of Glen Bee, Pierre du Plessis and Nico Johnsen on their Yamaha WaveRunners and in their Gemini inflatables provide the surfers with peace of mind that every precaution is being taken to ensure they survive the challenge.
The water-safety team and a fully equipped medical boat with two specially trained para-medics and a doctor are on hand even for free surfing and practice sessions at Dungeons during the event waiting period. The spectator craft are marshaled a safe distance from the powerful breaking waves by an SAPS Sea Border patrol boat to prevent skippers who do not usually put to sea in the type of conditions the event is staged in from getting into trouble.
Staying abreast of the action while the surfers wait for the right conditions to crown the third Red Bull Big Wave Africa champion is made easy by visiting www.redbullbwa.com where all aspects of the event status, the venue, athletes and their activities are covered with multiple daily updates.
The site goes live 10 days prior to the start of the event and spectators can also visit the contest HQ in Hout Bay harbour where charter boats provide trips to Dungeons or a shuttle bus takes one to the bottom of the path to the best viewing site from the Sentinel mountain.
Red Bull Communications
Tel: +27 (0) 11 684 1818
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