January 02, 2014 2 min read

Taming the Monsters at Dungeons

Robin Mohr likes to hunt monsters with a handguns.  But it’s not really what you think.  His monsters aren’t the things that go bump in the night.  They’re 20-foot walls of frothy water.  And his handguns don’t use bullets.  They’re sleek, shiny handplanes for riding down the face of the beasts at Dungeons, South Africa.

In 2009, the 45-year-old was the first to bodysurfing Dungeons, the right-hand reef break that’s one of South Africa’s most well-known surf spots.  So far, Dungeons has been paddle surfed, tow-in surfed, body boarded, SUP’ed and now bodysurfed. 

Robin Mohr bodysurfs dungeonsWith a life motto of FIFO (Face It Flat Out), Mohr makes sure his mind and body are prepared before he tackles the waves at Dungeons.  With only a small chunk of fiberglass to support him, training his lungs for maximum air is one of his main concerns, which he does while he showers.  “I put shampoo in my hand, take a breath and wash and rinse my hair twice before I breathe again,” Mohr said in an interview with Wavescape.

On “Big Sunday”, August 16, 2009, Mohr finally had his chance for a historical ride at Dungeons among crashing 25-foot monsters.  While Mohr waited in the wings for hours, he watched surfers get crushed beneath the white foam.  One surfer was pulled out of the water after a wave caught him and tore his knee ligaments. 

At last, a jet ski dropped him into the turbulent field of waves.  “I will never be able to explain the feeling of insignificance after being dropped in a place I had watched for five hours getting pulverized by 20-25ft waves,” Mohr said.  “Chris had dropped me where there was nowhere to hide.” 

Robin Mohr bodysurfs at DungeonsThen, the moment arrived.  A monster wave reared its head, and it was Mohr’s chance to hitch an unforgettable ride.  He paddled and took position on the inside, and the beast launched him onto its enormous, sloping face.  Mohr was “on the face of the biggest wave (he) had bodysurfed.”  A few seconds later, Mohr had skidded off the face and the ride was over, but he had experienced, however fleeting, the ultimate control surfers get when they tackle the waves at Dungeons.

Mohr tried a few more rounds, only to be pummeled, starved of oxygen and eventually rescued from the pounding break by jetski.  “I suddenly understood what makes these guys so special,” Mohr said.  “As for me, I was done for the day.”

steven watts
steven watts

Growing up in South Africa, Steve spent his youth dreaming of far off places. After spending eight years extensively traveling to many of the great surf destinations of the world getting dengue fever, having a near death experience from a falling coconut in mexico, Surviving a 15 foot drop on a handboard on a Nias bomb, jumping from every rock he could find without adequate health insurance. and comprehensively debunking the myth there are no waves in Thailand, even if they are small. He decided it was time for a a degree. Steve Graduated from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London with a degree in product design. He missed his graduation to go surfing in Californian, found a kindred spirit with Venice and never left