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Wed May 25 17:02:14 SAST 2016

Desperately seeking the next monster swell

Roxy Davis | 05 February, 2016 00:59

Image by: roxydavis.co.za

Calling yourself a surfer is easy. You own a board, paddle out occasionally, catch a few rides and you are part of the surf culture.

But few people can call themselves "Big Wave Surfers" - those who are dedicated to riding mountains and who chase monster swells.

How do you know if big wave surfing is for you? For me it's about asking a few simple questions. Would you like to ride down a four storey (12m) body of water? Sounds exciting right? Would you be okay with falling head first down that same wave if you wiped out? Hmmm.Not so much.

I hung up my big wave board a few seasons ago when I realised what it entails. I can't say I have ever rode mountains, more like rolling hills as 4.5m has been my limit.

It is big wave season in Hawaii now. Many South Africans are camped out ready for action.

I have been watching Cape Town surfer and friend Matt Bromley's journey as he travels the world in search of the next big wave. I caught up with him shortly after he had surfed what he described as "by far the biggest wave of my life" in Maui at a place known as Jaws or Peahi.

"It was terrifying but perfect and I felt like I was right where I was meant to be. When you feel purpose in what you do, you meet your moment and something special happens. I paddled into a wave that was probably around 12m high. It was an incredible feeling."

At 25 Matt is making a name for himself in the big wave world.

"It takes years and years of experience. Little by little you build up your confidence. Take little steps of faith in every session and push yourself to go out in bigger and bigger surf. When you constantly move into the unknown, you edge fear out of the equation and become comfortable and calm in big waves.

"The key is to stay chilled. You have to be physically prepared through good training. Water fitness is different to land, so it's important to spend lots of time in the water. I do a lot of swimming, surfing and spearfishing."

Matt reckons the best part of his job as a professional surfer is the adventures.

"You are totally flexible, waiting to see where the next big swell is heading. You could be venturing deep into the tropical jungle, or heading north to freezing cold Atlantic waters or chasing the system into the desert.

"You never know what's next and each swell is different."

Matt - with many other big wave surfers - continues to fly the South African flag high. As for us mere mortals, riding smaller bumps may be more our thing.

Head to Muizenberg on Saturday for 0.3m to 0.6m surf. Sunday you will find waves at Long Beach or Big Bay.

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