THIS IS WHY THE BIG WAVE TOUR NEEDS MORE EVENTS
A recent announcement from the World Surf League stated they are looking at adding Mavericks to the Big Wave Tour, much to the excitement of competitors and fans. Mavericks is the real deal, and along with the existing three event venues of Jaws / Pe’ahi in Hawaii, Nazaré in Portugal and Puerto Escondido in Mexico, makes up a dramatic host of venues for the tour. Is it enough to choose a world champion from four possible contests though?
Before the paring down of the Big Wave Tour to the current three contests, we had Punta De Lobos in Chile, we had Todos Santos in Mexico and we had Pico Alto in Peru, all as functioning events. Before that, we had Oregon and Punta Galea on the calendar, and before that, we had Dungeons. All of these venues provided legitimate big waves and were recognized as honorable venues for big wave events by the WSL and by the surfers.
Granted, Dungeons in South Africa is entirely off the radar after local surfers refused to allow the WSL to run a Big Wave Tour event there in 2015, but what about Punta Galea, Todos Santos and Pico Alto? Californian big wave charger Nic Lamb won at Punta Galea and it definitely helped him with his big wave career, Todos Santos was once the biggest wave ever paddled (1998) and won Taylor Knox $50k in the process, and Pico Alto was won by Makuakai Rothman in thunderous conditions in 2014.
We spoke to a few of the BWT surfers to get their feelings on Mavericks and the Big Wave Tour right now.
Current Big Wave World Champion Grant Baker is ‘very stoked, thanks…’ with the Mavericks event possibility, but has other mixed feelings. “I feel that we need eight events a year so we are guaranteed to run at least four and don’t need to run anything in sub-standard conditions,” said Twig.
I feel that we need eight events a year so we are guaranteed to run at least four and don’t need to run anything in substandard conditions“We were forced to run Puerto this year on a below par swell because we only have three events and couldn’t afford to miss any. We got lucky that the swell over-performed and we were able to run a decent event but eventually, it’s going to paint us into a corner. It is a World Tour, and unfortunately, at the moment we have four events all in the Northern Hemisphere, and this needs to be addressed.“
Recent Puerto Escondido Challenge winner Kai Lenny from Hawaii mostly agrees with Twig’s sentiment. “I think the addition of Mavericks is incredible, as it’s one of the best big waves in the world and one of the most consistent,” said Lenny. “With Puerto, Mavericks, Jaws and Nazaré I think it’s the most legit tour yet. Of course adding more events in more places would be awesome, but the ones on the tour now are definitely the best and most consistent. I feel like the chances of all these events running this year are very high.”
Twig also derecognizes historical equity that certain big wave events and venues bring to the narrative. “Peru, Todos and Dungeons have to come back on tour,” said Twig. “These locations and the events over the years are steeped in history, and the local talent at these waves are some of the best big wave surfers in the world, and they deserve a chance to be a part of our tour.”
Nic Lamb is also stoked with the news about Mavericks and has his take on the matter. “This event and tour is about placing the best surfers in the largest waves possible for the viewers,” said Lamb. “At the end of the day, we don’t care who puts on the event. As long as it runs consistently, legitimately, and the prize purses increase annually.”
Hawaiian charger Trevor Carlson is another who is pleased on the possibility of Mavericks being included on tour. “It’s really an awesome step forward to hear that Mavs is going to be on tour,” said Carlson. “The addition of this wave only helps legitimise the fact that the WSL BWT truly has the biggest and best venues. At the moment, the only other location that I believe could help this tour would be adding Cloudbreak in Fiji.”
At the moment, the only other location that I believe could help this tour would be adding Cloudbreak in Fiji.”
Finally, Jamie Mitchell, last year’s Nazaré Challenge winner and currently number 2 in the world on the Big Wave Tour rankings also reckons that the Mavericks news is insane. “I think Mavericks being on tour is amazing news,” said Mitchell. “It’s one of the best, craziest big waves on the planet and it will make a great addition to the tour, so I am super excited to hear that it’s close to being finalized. Mitchell is also keen on getting a few more events onto the tour again.
“I do think it would be great to have more stops on tour,” said Mitchell. “I understand how hard it is on the Big Wave Tour, especially at remote locations to run events, but personally I’d like to see at least six events for us each year. Hopefully, we can work towards that again in the near future.”
As we work towards the back half of the year and start looking at Jaws and Nazaré, there is a feeling of excitement in the air with regards to the Big Wave Tour. Gary Linden’s dream is still very much alive and happening, and the drama of big wave surfing continues to capture the imaginations of hardcore fans and mainstream viewers.
This time last year was an exciting period in the Big Wave Tour, with two events being run before the end of the year. The Pe’ahi Challenge and the Pe’ahi Women’s Challenge went down in early November, won by Billy Kemper and Paige Alms respectively.
The Nazaré Challenge happened just before Christmas in hell conditions and was won by Jamie Mitchell.
Cover shot: Aaron Gold on one of the biggest waves paddled at Jaws by Tassio Silva
(C) Towsurfer.com 2017