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      Brought to you by:

    10/06/2004 12:03 PM - (SA)
    Surfers to ride 5 m waves

    Mickey Duffus, a born-and-bred Helder-berger, is one of just 12 surfers from all over the world who has taken up the challenge of surfing the biggest rideable waves on the coastline of Africa.

    The event is the Red Bull Big Wave Africa 2004, and it will take place at Dungeons, Hout Bay from June 7 to 27. The competitors wait for swells exceeding five metres in height at Dungeons, the open ocean reef under the towering cliffs of the Sentinel Mountain, during the 21-day holding period.

    Mickey, who is now 42-years-old, is a surfing fanatic and grew up in Somerset West. He learnt to surf in Strand. He has spent the last seven weeks in Hawaii, preparing for the event, and while in Hawaii, he surfed Sunset Beach many times and Waimea Bay once. He now lives in Cape Town but often visits his mom, who still lives in Somerset West.

    After surfing all over the world, Mickey says that one of his favourite surf spots is still Kogel Bay.

    He says that although all 12 of the surfers competing in the event have a chance of winning, Californian Darryl "Flea" Virostko stands a good chance of taking the title.

    The other 10 surfers who will be competing in the Big Wave Africa event are: Grant Baker (Durban), Greg Long (California), Coco Nogales (Mexico), Jamie Sterling (Hawaii), Carlos Burle (Brazil), Sean Holmes (Wilderness), Andrew Marr (Cape Town), Jason Ribbink (Durban), Justin Strong (Cape Town) and Grant Washburn (California).

    The life-threatening nature of big wave surfing has led to the contest itself only being held twice since it was initiated in 1999 - in near-perfect 15 to 18 foot (5 - 6 metre) swells in 2000, when Sean Holmes clinched victory.

    However, the invitees challenge Dungeons every time it breaks and several windblown sessions that were unsuitable for contestants have produced rides in the 20 foot-plus (7 to 8 metres) range.

    A prize-pool totalling R125 000 is at stake, of which R35 000 goes to the winner and R15 000 to whoever rides the biggest wave in the three weeks.

    Information on the event, wave and weather predictions, and instructions on how to view the surfers in action are available at the website.

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    2003 Somerset Press (Pty) Ltd on all information and photographs.