Greg Long Takes Red Bull Big Wave Africa Title

Red Bull Big Wave Africa 2003
Surfing South Africa (SSA) Specialty event
Dungeons, Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
June 2-22, 2003
 Greg Long takes Red Bull Big Wave Africa title
 Greg Long from San Clemente, California, put on an awesome display of big wave surfing to dominate a world-class field and win the 2003 Red Bull Big Wave Africa in Cape Town.

 Competing in huge five to seven metre (15 — 20 foot) surf that produced hollow tubes reminiscent of Hawaiian waves, Long paddled into more waves than any of the other 12 competitors, rode them from further up the Dungeons reef and performed more radical manoeuvres to score a unanimous victory in the six man final.

 “It was an absolutely incredible day and an honour to surf with all the other contestants, said an elated and champagne-soaked Long. “Special thanks to all involved in making this event happen. It was great to see the true face of Dungeons — it’s a great wave — and I’m already looking forward to next year.

 In a magnanimous gesture unheard of in the cutthroat world of professional sports, the 6 finalists decided to pool the total prize-money for the final (R172 000 out of the R233 000 total for the event) and split it six ways with each taking home R28 666.

 Durban’s John Whittle clinched the runner-up spot with a gravity defying drop on a vertical wall of water on his last ride that had everyone hooting with Brazilian superstar Carlos Burle taking third and Grant Baker, Jason Ribbink (both Durban) and Hawaiian Jamie Sterling filling fourth to sixth places respectively.

 The first of the two semi-finals took to the surf at 1pm after the organisers hung tough, waiting for the conditions to clean up even though they were already one day over the three-week waiting period, which ended on Sunday.

 Long went straight to work, racking up an impressive wave count as his fellow competitors struggled to find their way around in the massive, hollow surf. Whittle took an early wipe-out and then stroked into the biggest wave of the event, a genuine seven metre (20 foot) swell that jacked up and threw a arcing lip at least three storeys into the windless, sunny air before crashing into a boiling whitewater as the surfer eased his way into the channel.

 That ride earned Whittle the R15 000 Sensi Threads Biggest Wave of the event award and the stage was set for another three hours of awe-inspiring surfing. Burle slipped into the third finals spot and Paul Paterson (Aus), Chris Bertish (Cape Town) and Richie Sills (Durban) will have to wait for another year.

 Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker was unstoppable in the second one-hour semi, scoring 9.5 (out of a possible 10) on his last ride to go with his 9.0 on the ride before for a clear heat win. Sterling and Ribbink joined him in advancing while 2000 Red Bull BWA winner Sean Holmes (Wilderness), surfing legend Cheyne Horan (Aus) and Waimea Bay charger Andrew Marr (Knysna) were eliminated.

 A half hour break saw the flotilla of spectator craft swell to nearly 50 boats and the final started with the swell appearing to be on the wane. However, a couple of powerful pulses saw the finalists slotting into five to six metre (15 — 18 foot) hollow barrels that had the spectators gasping with amazement.

 The award for the Best Tube ride of the event went to Baker for his incredible 9.5 point ride in the semi-finals where he pulled up under the lip of a towering quadruple overhead wall of water that proceeded to envelope him before letting him out, then covering him up again before closing down on him as the onlookers groaned in sympathy.

 Hardcore charger Chris Bertish was a popular recipient of the Deep Throat award for the most ‘committed’ competitor over the three-week waiting period. The R5 000 goes to the invitee who is prepared to take a couple of big waves on the head in pursuit of trying to ride the biggest waves and Bertish’s gung ho approach certainly fulfilled those ccriteria every time he entered the surf.

 Digital images, video footage, reports, interviews and results from the event are available on the website

 2003 Red Bull Big Wave Africa

Dungeons, Hout Bay, Cape Town South Africa

1.Greg Long (San Clemente, California)
2.John Whittle (Durban, RSA)
3.Carlos Burle (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
4.Grant baker (Durban, RSA)
5.Jason Ribbink (Durban, RSA)
6.Jamie Sterling (Oahu, Hawaii)
 Sensi Threads Biggest Wave — John Whittle
Best Tube Award — Grant Baker
Deep Throat Award — Chris Bertish