The worldâ€™s best big wave surfers are counting down the days to the kickoff of the second half of the 2016/17 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) season. The window runs from October 15, 2016 to February 28, 2017 and will center on the unpredictable Northern Hemisphere swell cycle. With the potential to run at three of the most treacherous waves on the planet — NazarÃ© in Portugal, Peâ€™ahi in Hawaii and Todos Santos in Mexico — exceptionally courageous men and women will put all on the line to compete for the BWT World Title.
The WSL Big Wave Tour will hope to light up all three locations on the winter schedule. In order to receive the â€œgreen light,â€ conditions must produce waves of at least 20 feet and wave faces greater than 40 feet, at which point, competitors and alternates will have 72 hours to drop everything and race from all corners of the globe to chase the swell.
â€œWe are excited for the start of the winter season and eager to watch the worldâ€™s best big wave surfers take on the Northern Hemisphere breaks,â€ said Peter Mel, former BWT Champion and WSL Big Wave Tour Commissioner. â€œWe have added the NazarÃ© Challenge to this yearâ€™s Big Wave Tour alongside the Peâ€™ahi Challenge in Maui, Hawaii and the Todos Santos Challenge in Baja California, Mexico. The athletes charged Peâ€™ahi and Todos Santos last year on the Tour, and we hope Mother Nature cooperates so we can run as many events as possible this season.â€
The WSL Big Wave Tour competitors consist of the Top 10 seeds from the previous WSL Big Wave Tour season, four Surfline Performers of the Year, an injury wildcard, six local invited competitors and three wildcards to be selected by the Big Wave Commissioner. There is $100,000 in prize money on the line for each Big Wave Tour event. Competitors are scored on their two best waves with the higher score doubled, in order to reward the surfer who paddles into the biggest wave.
Exciting additions of this yearâ€™s winter season include NazarÃ© as a stop on the Northern Hemisphere leg and an exclusive Women’s Championship Big Wave event.
â€œThe bar was definitely raised with the historic El NiÃ±o winter last year,â€ continued Mel. â€œThis year we added NazarÃ© to the list, so we are excited to see how the surfers push the boundaries with this new event. We have seen incredible performances from female big wave surfers as they continue to charge the biggest, heaviest waves around the world. This season the worldâ€™s best will get the opportunity to compete at either Peâ€™ahi or Todos Santos at the inaugural Womenâ€™s Championship event. Best of luck to all of our competitors.â€
The debut of the NazarÃ© Challenge in Portugal will see the worldâ€™s best take on some of the heaviest waves in the world with notorious power and dangerous whitewater speeds. The infamous break has long been considered inaccessible to paddle-in-surfing, but now with a BWT event, the competitors will be put to the ultimate test.
â€œNazarÃ© commands the respect and attention of the whole world,â€ said BWT competitor Nic Lamb. â€œI’m most looking forward to putting on spectacular performances for the viewers. To prepare, Iâ€™ve upped my cardio and explosiveness. I am excited to compete alongside the best big wave surfers in the world. They bring out the best in me. I’m all in, ready to risk it big.â€
A diverse lineup of the leading waterwomen have been invited to participate in the Womenâ€™s Championship event. Two Semifinals of 6 women in each heat will narrow the field, with 3 moving on from each Semifinal to the Final. The women will compete at either Peâ€™ahi or Todos Santos, depending on the conditions.
â€œI’m super stoked that the WSL is stepping it up and finally supporting the big wave women,â€ said Paige Alms, winner of the Womenâ€™s Best Overall Performance Award at the 2015 Big Wave Awards. â€œThis will be an amazing event and I’m so honored to be invited. I’ve been training pretty hard to prepare and feel like when November rolls around I’m going to be in the best shape I’ve been in years. I’m beyond stoked to have an event at home with Peâ€™ahi as an option.â€
Peâ€™ahi, known as â€œJaws,â€ premiered on the BWT last winter with exceptional performances in epic conditions. All eyes will be on this venue this year to see the top ranked BWT surfers take on the monstrous conditions. Event officials will watch closely for the perfect mix of swell activity in the Western portion of the North Pacific and calm winds from the south to create ideal conditions.
â€œKillers,â€ the venue for the Todos Santos Challenge, lies 60 miles south of the US border and nine miles off the coast of Mexico. The break feeds off the violent energy of the North Pacific winter storms, yet is far enough south that it often escapes the winds that plague the local winds that play havoc with many West Coast breaks during the season.
An opening celebration in NazarÃ©, Portugal will kick off the Big Wave Tour’s Northern Hemisphere season on October 15. Big wave surfers and local royalty will gather at Praia do Norte in celebration of the record-setting waves that have put Portugal on the map as a big wave haven.
BWT 2016/17 Women’s Big Wave Championship:
Competitors: Paige Alms (HAW), Justine Dupont (FRA), Laura Enever (AUS), Emily Erickson (HAW), Maya Gabeira (BRA), Bethany Hamilton (HAW), Keala Kennelly (HAW), Andrea Moller (BRA), Silvia Nabuco (BRA), Savannah Shaughnessy (USA), Jamilah Star (USA), Bianca Valenti (USA)
Alternates: Makani Adric (HAW), Easkey Britton (IRE), Wrenna Delgado (USA), Felicity Palmateer (AUS), Paulina Ralda (GTM), Tammy Lee Smith (ZAF), Maria Ignacia ValdÃ©s (CHL)
BWT 2016/17 NazarÃ© Challenge:
Competitors: Grant Baker (ZAF), Alex Botelho (PRT), Carlos Burle (BRA), Andrew Cotton (UKM), Shane Dorian (HAW), Aaron Gold (HAW), Mark Healey (HAW), Damien Hobgood (USA), Billy Kemper (HAW), Josh Kerr (AUS), Nic Lamb (USA), Albee Layer (HAW), Kai Lenny (HAW), Greg Long (USA), JoÃ£o de Macedo (PRT), Garrett McNamara (HAW), Cristian Merello (CHL), Jamie Mitchell (AUS), Makuakai Rothman (HAW), Antonio Silva (PRT), Hugo Vau (PRT)
Alternates: Tom Butler (UKM), Trevor Sven Carlson (HAW), Pedro Calado (BRA), Tom Lowe (UKM), Ramon Navarro (CHL), Will Skudin (USA), Gabriel Villaran (PER), Nic Von Rupp (PRT), Ian Walsh (HAW)
BWT 2016/17 Pe’ahi Challenge:
Competitors: Grant Baker (ZAF), Carlos Burle (BRA), Shane Dorian (HAW), Aaron Gold (HAW), Mark Healey (HAW), Damien Hobgood (USA), Billy Kemper (HAW), Josh Kerr (AUS), Nic Lamb (USA), Tyler Larronde (HAW), Albee Layer (HAW), Kai Lenny (HAW), Greg Long (USA), Cristian Merello (CHL), Jamie Mitchell (AUS), Dege O’Connell (HAW), Makuakai Rothman (HAW), Francisco Porcella (ITA), Yuri Soledade (BRA), Ian Walsh (HAW), Shaun Walsh (HAW)
Alternates: Kai Barger (HAW), Trevor Sven Carlson (HAW), Pedro Calado (BRA), Tom Dosland (HAW), Marcio Freire (BRA), Ramon Navarro (CHL), Will Skudin (USA), Gabriel Villaran (PER)
BWT 2016/17 Todos Santos Challenge:
Competitors: Grant Baker (ZAF), Carlos Burle (BRA), Shane Dorian (HAW), Aaron Gold (HAW), Alex Gray (USA), Mark Healey (HAW), Damien Hobgood (USA), Billy Kemper (HAW), Josh Kerr (AUS), Nic Lamb (USA), Albee Layer (HAW), Kai Lenny (HAW), Greg Long (USA), Rusty Long (USA), Cristian Merello (CHL), Jamie Mitchell (AUS), Coco Nogales (MEX), Jojo Roper (USA), Makuakai Rothman (HAW), Diego Pertusso (MEX), Vicente Yazbek (MEX)
Alternates: Trevor Sven Carlson (HAW), Pedro Calado (BRA), Ramon Navarro (CHL), Jimel Corzo (MEX), Rogercin Ramirez (MEX), Will Skudin (USA), Nic Vaughan (USA), Gabriel Villaran (PER), Ian Walsh (HAW)