What have we learnt from seven years of surfing big waves in Africa? Trial by frustration? Waves come when they want to. Is the Red Bull BWA a close up, day by day, hour by hour study of the fickle whims of nature? But more than all that we've learnt that big waves happen every year, regardless of whether the competition runs. We've learnt from the likes of Ross Clarke-Jones, Carlos Burle, Jason Ribbink, Shawn Alladio, Nico, Pierre, Glen, Crash, Burn & co that there is no paddle vs tow-in debate. That was all bogus posturing. There are only big waves and different ways to surf them. We learnt about shooting film from the back of a jetski through Sonny Miller. We talked about boards and shapes and design elements, we swapped stories and details and rescue techniques. We've seen new weather patterns develop, new trends in surf brand marketing. We drank new shooters and surfed new waves. But, if there is one single thing this whole month long shindig of surfing, this yearly homage to big wave surfing, known as the Red Bull Big Wave Africa, teaches us, it is simply to charge. Now I'm not talking about plugging in your cellphone here. I'm talking about the way surfers go out there and drop into monumental, heaving, walls of water. Pulling themselves over the edge, because you won't know unless you go. And sometimes you get swabbed.

So what does it mean to charge? To forget about the fear and the internal debate of, 'should I, shouldn't I, maybe...' To shelve all that crap and just go. To charge is to move from the world of thought into the world of action. To take all your courage and roll it up into that ball in the pit of your stomach that screams don't do it... and just go bro! Surfing really big waves is the easiest example

of charging. They do it for fun, loving every moment of those critical, late drops. Placing their bodies on a knife-edge. But that should not put the concept of charging beyond us mortals. Everybody charges at some point of their lives, the Red Bull BWA just makes the concept more accessible to plebs like us.

Not all of us are big wave surfers, many of us don't surf at all, but that doesn't mean we don't charge. Some of us charge onto the dancefloor when we see a hottie we would like to meet. Some people charge when they stand up

to make a speech, others get cancer and charge chemotherapy. Some people pick the hardest wave and choose to charge into marriage and kids. Some people charge that one backwards too. Others walk into the bank and charge straight into the yawning jaws of a homeloan.

What makes charging different is that you choose it. It doesn't just happen to you. You choose those waves, this life, choose the shit and how you deal with it. When you charge you stop being a victim and start exercising some control over the elements. Sometimes, often, you get fwumped, tilted, turned upside down and deepwater enema'd. Other times you ride the fine line to glory. You won't know unless you go. Kiobo in Spanish! Khubo in Zulu! See you every year, same place, same time. Bring rubber and big boards...

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