The first event up on the WSL Big Wave Tour 2017 is the Punta De Lobos Quiksilver Ceremonial.
If you’re a visiting surfer and you are not going to have the help of jetski assist, then it’s a challenging wave. You stand up on the cliff and watch the waves, big and reeling and barreling and washing off the base of the cliff. Then you find the path down the cliff and traverse it with your big board. At the bottom of the cliff two things happen. 1, you get to feel just how freezing the water is and two, you paddle across a foaming channel that has a push and a pull current that you have to ride until you find the little ledge on the other side.
On the little island are two giant rocks, called Los Morros. You have to walk around the base of these two rocks to get to the jump spot, and that’s when it all suddenly gets serious. On a big day you kind of hide behind the big Los Morros rock as the sets come, and then when there is a lull you run across the shelf, jump off and quickly scurry across the inside of the take-off zone into the safety of the channel. It’s scary as fuck. It’s a long and slippery shelf covered in weed, and when you commit there’s no turning back. Should a set come through, even a medium one, you’re pretty much fucked and could easily get washed over the inside rock pile or through the gap between the island and the rockpile. A very scary trip, as this writer can attest to. Check the paddle out POV here
The wave itself has many incantations, from the El Mirador and Diamante sections on the inside, to the real deal Lobos grinder on the outside, It gets big, it has a wall that stretches about halfway across the Chilean coastline, and it slows down for no man. The drop is challenging enough on a big day, but getting to the bottom and looking up at a 50 foot barrel reeling away from you can be fairly disconcerting. The waves that look like they don't have too much wall, that are flat shoulders, are often the ones that are more makeable and can provide the best waves. It is a serious contender for big wave superlatives and is an obvious choice for the Big Wave Tour to run their Quiksilver Ceremonial event.
A wave like this has to play a part in developing a local big wave surfing scene, and the person to emerge from such a situation is Ramon Navarro, the fisherman’s son.
The plucky local goofy-footer has had many a terrifying session and many a scary paddle out from the Morros to know how serious these waves actually are. It is obviously a good training ground however, as Ramon pulled off the incredible backhand drop in the 2009 Quiksilver In Memory Of Eddie Aikau event at Waimea Bay that has etched him into the record books.
While the wave does favour goofy-footers like Navarro, the defending champion is Hawaiian surfer Makuakai Rothman, the Hawaiian natural-footer and a previous world champ. The previous event wasn't webcast, but the next version is bound to have a live feed and we can all enjoy watching surfers getting pitted and pitched at one of the gnarliest lefts in the world.
Peep the event here