A recent event at Punta Galea says yes.
When the World Surf League Big Wave Tour cut back their number of events, there were mixed feelings all around. Granted, the events remaining, being Jaws/Pe’ahi, Nazaré and Puerto Escondido, and then later Mavericks, all had a lot going for them, being premier big wave spots with consistent year-on-year swells, and willing local communities, but there were still many questions and doubts.
No event in the Southern Hemisphere makes it difficult to call it a legitimate World Tour, according to some of the surfers on that tour. With no event in Australia, Peru and South Africa, the tour was lacking a bit of depth, and with the loss of Punta Galea in Basque Country as a world tour event, there were a few more questions.
As it stands however, the Big Wave Tour is legitimate enough, as long as those four events get to run more often than not. As for those events that are no longer on the tour, well, they should run as well. For local and international underdogs and up-and-comers to have any chance of securing a spot on the big wave tour in the future, they need to be seen to be charging, whenever possible.
Over at Punta Galea, the event organisers ran their event last week, despite it not being rated by WSL. No worries they reckoned, let’s run this event so that should the WSL wish to expand again in the future, then they have an existing event that can just be assimilated. It was, after all, their 12th iteration of the event.
The current 13th-rated Big Wave Tour surfer and former Punta Galea event champion Nic Lamb from California was in the thick of this year’s event, showing that WSL-rated or not, big wave events are what he does, and what gets him going.
Lamb, who won the last event at Punta Galea with a massive left drop at this predominant right-hander is not a stranger to the podium. He also was the victor at the 2016 Titans of Mavericks event, even though it wasn't macking that year, and picked up some of the biggest and best waves around the Jaws/Pe’ahi Challenge, despite an average contest performance and first round elimination.
For the event this year the waves were perfect 18-20 foot, and there were some barrels in the tricky, shifty lineup. It was Lamb who found the best waves in the final, despite a strong performance from the other competitors.
The takeaway from this event however, is not about the win or the final results, but about the culture of big wave surfing. It’s alive and well, and while the Big Wave Tour is the pinnacle for any big wave surfer, it is not the only way to enjoy competing in big wave events. All you need is stoked people, and surfers and event organisers with a similar goal, to bolster the spirit and love of big wave surfing, without agendas. It would be a helluva thing if the other big wave venues in the world could organise something similar and have big wave events at their respective venues, for the sake of the sport. It’s not about prize-money either, but about riding big waves with competitive spirit.