The professional big wave surfers have been added to the World Surf League and added onto the professional world tour a few years ago and its happening around the world live for all of you to watch live in your homes. In fact its on today the semi’s and finals in Mexico at The Puerto Escondido Challenge, the first event of the 2016/17.
World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT), kicked off today with monstrous 30-foot-plus (10 metre) waves in unruly and challenging beach break conditions. Professional big wave surfers have some exotic surfing spots that the WSL has on the menu this year. And the newest added to the world tour is Puerto Escondido in Mexico which is a huge beach break, with pretty dirty waters. The next in the Southern Hemisphere window is from April 27th- August 31st 2016 & these two events are left The Quiksilver Punta de Lobos Challenge: Punta de Lobos, Chile & Billabong Pico Alto Challenge: Pico Alto, Peru. In the Northern Hemisphere which has a waiting period from October 15, 2016 – February 28, 2017
Pe’ahi Challenge: Haiku, Hawaii
Todos Santos Challenge: Todos Santos, Mexico
Nazaré Challenge: Nazaré, Portugal
The invitee’s change depending on the location. Currently there are professional 24 professional big wave surfers at The Puerto Escondido Challenge. There are five (5) from the USA, (6) from Hawaii, (1) Peru, (6) from Mexico, (1) from South Africa, (2) from Brazil, (1) Great Britain, (1) Australia and (1) from Chile.
With only the top three big wave surfers from each six-man heat advancing out of Round 1, the world’s best big wave surfers battled the elements to secure a spot in the Semifinals.
2015/16 BWT Champion Greg Long (USA) led the field with back-to-back solid scores in Round 1 Heat 1 and was the first surfer to secure his place in the Semifinals. Long set the pace for the opening heat of the event by picking off multiple right-hand barrels to earn a 20.01 heat score (out of a possible 30). Albee Layer (HAW) secured a 12.83 heat score and the second position. Kai Lenny (HAW) and Gabriel Villaran (PER) battled for third place, but it was Lenny who showcased full commitment as he pulled into a deep barrel and edged out Villaran by only 3.10 points. Villaran, Jose Ramirez (MEX) and Koa Rothman (HAW) are eliminated from the event.
“The waves are really good right now and there are a lot of corners if you know where to sit,” Long said. “I actually deliberately rode a much bigger board than I ever do out here. There is a lot more volume so I could cover the ground that I needed to. It is something new for me, but in a heat if you can’t catch a wave, nothing else matters. My strategy was to keep moving around wherever it was clean and I locked in four waves.”
2014/15 BWT Champion Makuakai Rothman (HAW) charged through Heat 3, with Pedro Calado (BRA) and BWT veteran Carlos Burle (BRA) close behind. Rothman, last year’s BWT runner-up, locked in a near-perfect 9.50 and a solid 7.80 back-up score. Calado fired with an excellent 9.07 and 6.93 to earn the second position. With only 0.29 points between Burle and event wildcard Angelo Lozano (MEX), Burle’s 23.56 heat total was enough to advance to the Semifinals.
“This is my second time to Mexico and the waves are really fun,” said Rothman. “I was just in the right place at the right time. I am not thinking about the end result. I am just thinking about my first wave tomorrow morning and hopefully I am in the right spot. The local boys charge.”
Jamie Mitchell (AUS) netted the highest single-wave score of Round 1, a perfect 10.00, with an extremely technical barrel ride in Heat 4. Mitchell’s final score, a near-perfect 29.03, was the highest of the day, earning him the heat win and a place in the Semifinals. The bout also saw high-scoring rides from local wildcard Jimel Corzo (MEX) and Rusty Long (USA), who will also proceed to the Semifinals.
“I think we were all worried about the fourth heat with the wind coming up, but I think we scored the best conditions of the day,” Mitchell said. “The tide was dropping, the winds stayed glassy and the swell was peaking. I found an early right hander and nearly made it out, which put me into a good rhythm. I found that left and didn’t think I was going to make it, but somehow I pulled out of that. It was an historic day. Incredible surf and incredible barrels.”
Will Skudin (USA) charged through Heat 2 and claimed the heat win with a 22.07 heat total over former BWT Champion Grant Baker (ZAF) by only 0.74 points. Rogercin Ramirez (MEX), event wildcard and local favorite, opened Heat 2 with a monstrous barrel, pulling off a technical exit to earn an authoritative 9.00, which brought the large hometown crowd to their feet. Ramirez held the lead against the field, but with fifteen minutes left on the clock, Skudin and Baker fought back to secure the first and second positions, respectively. Skudin, Baker and Ramirez will advance to the Semifinals. BWT heavyweights Billy Kemper (HAW) and Damien Hobgood (USA), along with local wildcard Coco Nogales (MEX) were knocked out of the competition. Side note it seems some of the judges missed some bombs that Hawaii’s Billy Kemper caught and I’m wondering if they were sleeping?
“It was hard to find those corners out there,” Skudin said. “It was big and heavy, and I just put my head down and kept on going. I was hoping that eventually I’d lock one down and make a good barrel. Unfortunately, I didn’t make a really good barrel, but I made it through the heat.”
Check out worldsurfleague.com and watch these amazing surfers in some crazy huge waves!
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