Downwind Dash (surfski)

It’s already the next day and I can’t get the image of those behemoth walls of water coming into Big Bay out of my head. If you don’t know what the downwind dash is, it’s a weekly downwind surfski race from Milnerton to Big Bay and it only happens when the South Easter is blowing.

A few days earlier I had a conversation with a friend about whether I should be doing the DWD when the waves are 4m+ at Big Bay and after speaking to him I knew it was a bad idea and was hoping for the forecast to die down. Unfortunately it didn’t but I still decided to give it a go anyway.

Me watching the set roll in

As the horn sounded to start it was clear that there was no rush for anyone to charge out, the set was rolling in and everyone hung back out of the impact zone waiting for a gap. Eventually the gap came and there was a mad dash to get out, most of us were lucky and made it but a few got caught.

This guy managed to just sneak out

Once past the waves I was shocked at the size of the swell rolling in but just put my head down and started having a jol in the runs (wind generated swell). There were stages when I was on a run for 10 seconds without paddling and also stages where the run would break behind me and I’d get knocked sideways.

Not so lucky

As I neared Big Bay the swell was cooking and a few sets on the outside of the rocks were breaking. Just as I was about to turn around the rocks I spotted an empty ski flying through the water and about 50m upwind was it’s owner floating near the rocks and getting pounded by the sets. I turned back into the wind to try help him get back to shore but this plan was quickly over when a set wave decided to break on me and wash me about 20m away from him and with another wave right behind I gestured to a windsurfer to keep an eye on him and paddled like mad to avoid getting crunched. I made it to shore and was glad to hear that the rescue boat was already on it’s way after helping another person out near Doodles.

@Bryanallott summed it up well “Emotional. Spiritual. Coming into BigBay and it gets dark behind you as the wave blocks out the sunset… #earnestprayer”

All in all it was great fun, although hairy at times, and I think I finally get the appeal of downwind paddling that Rob from preaches about.

With only 3 downwinds in the bag I can already say I’m hooked!

All pictures are from the Downwind Dash facebook page

About Chris

I love spontaneous travel, the outdoors, the ocean and having a good time. I want my life to be series of never ending adventure

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5 Responses to Downwind Dash (surfski)

  1. Fat Paddler November 22, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    4m!! Bloody hell mate, you’ve got some kahunas!

    • Chris November 22, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      thanks, I think it was 99% naivety and 1% bravery. Great fun though šŸ™‚

  2. Johan (aka smilicus) November 22, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Awesome….for me, as a beginner that still seems insanely crazy to out in such big surf.

  3. Rob November 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Yeeehaaaaaaaaa! Great one!

    Well done!

  4. Chris November 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    @Johan Before you know it you’ll be charging anything and everything. Progress is quick once you can balance & remount.

    @Rob Thanks! I made sure I had all my safety equipment as per šŸ˜›

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