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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Sun, 15 October 2017

The winter season of the Northern Hemisphere WSL Big Wave Tour has opened with the window period for Nazare and Jaws starting simultaneously today.

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OVERBITE: When Jaws is at its best, that's when it's at its scariest. Photo WSL / Scholtz

The world’s best big wave surfers will now prepare to take on three of the most challenging big wave breaks on the planet - Nazaré in Portugal and Pe'ahi in Hawaii, followed by Mavericks in California. The season runs until 28 February next year.

The start date for the competition window for the Mavericks event - along with a traditional opening ceremony - will be set shortly after arrangements are finalised with governmental agencies involved with the production of the event. The WSL’s permit for the contest was finalised last week.

“We are excited to get the Big Wave Tour back underway with the winter season,” said Mike Parsons, WSL BWT Commissioner. “We have the window for Nazaré and Pe’ahi opening today and are working diligently with all agencies to finalize details for Mavericks.”


PEAKY SPOT: The Nazare window also opened today. Photo WSL

The Northern Hemisphere season welcomes back the Women’s Pe’ahi Challenge for its second year. A decorated lineup of the leading big wave surfers has been invited to compete at the famed break near Haiku on Maui. Last year’s inaugural event saw Paige Alms (HAW) claim the historic victory. This year’s event will feature six women battling in a one-off Final.

The top women will also have the opportunity to compete at Mavericks this season. The WSL Commissioner's Office will work with a committee of Mavericks surfing icons to select six of the best female big wave surfers. The committee will consider performance results from the 2016 WSL Big Wave Awards, experience surfing at Mavericks, and overall big wave experience at big wave locations around the world.

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FLY ON THE WALL: Billy Kemper is the one to watch at Jaws. Photo WSL

The men’s division for the Northern Hemisphere events consists of a 24-man field, comprising the top 10 finishers of the 2016/2017 BWT season, six event wildcards, three BWT wildcards, one injury wildcard, and the top four recipients of the Surfline Overall Performance of the Year Award. The six event wildcards for the Mavericks Challenge will be selected by a committee made up of Mavericks legends and experts.

Earlier this year, the Big Wave Tour completed its first event of the season, the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico, where Kai Lenny (HAW) claimed victory. Lenny leads the men’s BWT rankings with Jamie Mitchell (AUS) in second place, Tom Lowe (GBR) in third and Billy Kemper (HAW) in fourth. Mitchell, the 2016 and inaugural Nazaré Challenge winner, will look to defend his event title in Portugal. Kemper has dominated the Pe’ahi Challenge since its introduction to the WSL Big Wave Tour and will look for his third-consecutive win at Jaws.

WSL Big Wave Tour officials will monitor swell producing storms for the next four-and-a-half months and watch for the conditions that will produce waves in the 30-to-60-foot range. Once the call is made, competitors will have 72 hours notice to be ready to compete.


MIGHTY MITCHELL: The Aussie big wave charger has Praie de Norte wired. Photo WSL / Cestari

2017/18 BWT Men’s Nazaré Challenge

Invitees: Grant Baker, Pedro Calado, Greg Long, Jamie Mitchell, Billy Kemper, Nic Lamb, Will Skudin, João De Macedo, Cristian Merello, Kai Lenny, Makuakai Rothman, Lucas Chianca, Francisco Porcella, Trevor Sven Carlson, Tom Lowe, Garrett McNamara, Alex Botelho, Tom Butler, Andrew Cotton, Antonio Silva, Hugo Vau, Nic Von Rupp

Event Alternates: Kealii Mamala, Natxo Gonzalez
Performer of the Year Alternates: Peter Mel, Nathan Florence, Jojo Roper

2017/18 BWT Men’s Pe’ahi Challenge

Invitees: Grant Baker, Pedro Calado, Greg Long, Jamie Mitchell, Billy Kemper, Nic Lamb, Will Skudin, João De Macedo, Cristian Merello, Kai Lenny, Makuakai Rothman, Lucas Chianca, Francisco Porcella, Trevor Sven Carlson, Tom Lowe, Shane Dorian, Ian Walsh, Albee Layer, Mark Healey, Aaron Gold, Tyler Larronde

Event Alternates: Shaun Walsh, Danilo Couto, Torrey Meister
Performer of the Year Alternates: Peter Mel, Nathan Florence, Alex Botelho


BARREL MERCHANT: You can't exclude someone who takes on a wave like this. Photo WSL

2017/18 BWT Women’s Pe’ahi Challenge

Invitees: Paige Alms, Justine Dupont, Andrea Moeller, Keala Kennelly, Felicity Palmateer, Bianca Valenti

Alternates: Emily Erickson, Nicole Pacelli, Laura Enever

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