Quick Chats: Robbie Berman.
First up, can you introduce yourself? What is the Robbie Berman story?
Howsit, I’m a 21-year-old, ocean lover born and bred in Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve been bodyboarding for the past 7/8 years and my passion for it keeps on growing. I came straight out of school into university with the plan of studying while training (mostly training) to enter the World Tour once finished. Now that I am finished, I plan to mission up and down my country in search of perfect waves until the tour resumes and hopefully ill be able to enter and give it a go.
Without getting into specifics if you don’t want to, where did you chase waves for the clip?
The clip was filmed entirely up on the West Coast of our South Africa which is roughly a 3 – 5+ hour drive, depending on where you go. Some waves are more well known and others are a little more under the radar in some pretty isolated areas. My favourite part about the West Coast is the variety of waves that on their day can be up there with the best of the best. However, this is just one side of the country, my East Coast Clip is going to be launched very soon!
How long did it take for you to gather the footage?
The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the whole country moving to a 100+ day lockdown which prevented us from going outdoors and being in the ocean. The lockdown did take place over prime time West Coast season and it was painful to see the perfect swell charts pop and just imagine what they would do from home. The Skeleton Bay charts were definitely the worst to watch
By the time we came out of lockdown, we were in peak winter which meant, huge storms and cold fronts. So we had to make up for the lost time in between the unsurfable cold fronts as the end of winter was near. Even though it was still semi-illegal to go in the water, we couldn’t resist missing out on any more charts so off we went and started missioning. All the footage I gathered was from 2-3 months of waves up West
What was the best session you scored while filming?
Best session. Well, we were all camping up the coast by this incredible spot and when we woke up the waves were looking pretty dismal. Most of the guys chose to wait and see what happens but 3 of us decided to go for a drive. We checked 3 spots which all pretty rubbish and made a last-minute decision to check one final spot that was pretty out of the way and was most likely going to also be rubbish as its so inconsistent but we just had to do it to be sure. It’s also one of my favourite waves, so I almost had to do it for old times sake.
After the hour-long bumpy ride, we were coming over the dune and we saw this HUGE blowout. We thought it was a lucky one so we stopped for a bit and watched. But it just kept doing it again and again and again. A big, wedging reef break, what more could one ask for?
We got out there with just the three of us and it was so good. Just 3 mates and perfect waves for 4 hours straight in the middle of nowhere. Sadly, all I had with me was my GoPro which gave me problems halfway through however, I did get one banger which can be seen at 0.43 in my clip, a Big Blue POV barrel. The fact that this session was so unexpected made the whole experience so much better!
The conditions look freezing in the footage, can you give us some more detail about what the water temps were like?
It is so cold in the morning and the evenings as there often snow covering the mountains nearby and as you can imagine, the offshore winds blow all that cold air into your face. One morning, we were driving up towards a spot and as we got closer and closer to the spot we saw the temperature keep dropping. By the time we were in our wetsuits, air temp was measuring at 0 degrees and the water temp is usually in the single digits too. But the waves are too good, you just have to push through the stinging fingers and numb feet
The cold also keeps the crowds fairly manageable which is the silver-lining.
Can you elaborate on your interest in shooting drone footage?
Droning was a hobby that I picked up a few years ago and didn’t take much notice of but once I got my first ‘good shot’ with it I was hooked. I love flying it around and trying to capture scenes from new perspectives. I often enjoy pushing the limits by flying it through small gaps to get the shot. A few crashes later and I still haven’t learnt.
You’ve captured plenty of cool drone footage of some Great White Sharks cruising the beaches, how often do you spot them, and any interesting/ heavy stories with them?
You don’t see them as often as one would imagine. Where usually go bodyboarding, we have shark spotters which are great as they keep the nerves at ease but thankfully, we very seldomly see them. There are a few areas away from home that I don’t plan to go swimming at any time soon such as the place I’ve gotten most of my footage at.
There’s one awesome surf spot around there which used to hold annual competitions. One year a mate and I were in a heat together, I had just taken a wave and was standing on the shore to paddle back out and he was chilling out the back. He duck dived a wave and looked a shark in the eye in the process. He was so close to duck diving into the thing, Im surprised he didn’t jab it with his board!
Thankfully, it was a small guy just cruising by interested in the competition. That’s probably the heaviest encounter I’ve had with them but I know a few people who have some really scary experiences.
Finally, any shout outs or thanks you would like to add feel free here!
Thanks for the opportunity to let me share a few things and thanks to the readers for support. I’d like to shout out to all my mates who make the missions as good as they are, the photogs and filmers for battling out the harsh conditions on the beach in the water and especially a BIG SHOUTOUT to all the guys on that one West Coast Trip for being so chilled when we found out I had COVID on the trip. Good times!