What Is It? 

A new tow only event that replaces last year’s paddle Nazare Challenge. It is now one of only two official WSL big wave events, the other being the Jaws Pe’ahi Challenge, aka the World Titles. 

When Is It

The competition waiting period began on 1 November and continues until the 31 March. However, the inside word is that the WSL would prefer to run it earlier rather than later with a pre-Christmas finish the ideal scenario. With the first tow session of the season happening this week, there hav even been rumours that they are looking at pressing the green light for next week. 

Who's In It? 

There are 10, two-person teams, loosely arranged along national lines. So RCJ and Mick Corbett will rep the Aussies, which begs the question; how much mongrel can one jetski handle? Tom Butler and Andrew Cotton are the Nazare-residing Poms while mavericks Eric Rebiere and Sancho will surf for France. However, there are a few other random selections. Kai Lenny and Lucas Chianca are called the “Young Bulls”, Sebastian Steudenter and Maya Gabeira are Team World and French charger Justine Dupont is on her own with her driver Fred David not surfing. Here is the full list of invitees. 

Anyone Miss Out?

Picking just 20 surfers from the long list of Nazare regulars wasn’t going to be easy. The inclusion of Twiggy Baker, however, has raised a few eyebrows. He is obviously one of the best big wave surfers in the world and the defending paddle champ here but hasn't done a lot of time behind the rope at Nazare. On the flip side, his partner and local legend Antonio Silva is one of the original pioneers. G-Mac, the man who started this mad rollercoaster has also opted out but is heavily involved in putting the whole show on. Basically every invitee has done their time riding and dodging the huge teepees at the Portugal shorey. 

Isn’t Tow Dead? 

Not at Nazare. Even though last year’s paddle in comp was one of the best ever, those perfect conditions for paddle days are rare. Most days it simply becomes too big to paddle and the WSL is banking on one of those regular days when wave faces hit the 80-foot mark. In an ideal world, we could watch on via webcast as the mythical 100-foot barrier is broken.

What Are The Categories?

Glad you asked. There will be separate awards for the best Female and Male Team and a special commitment prize, which basically translates as the Wipeout Award. At this stage, we don’t know the judging criteria or the format regarding elimination and progression. 

Will It Be Webcast?

Definitely. The WSL had a trial run last year broadcasting a freesurfing tow session the day after the paddle comp, but were unlucky that they didn’t get the wave heights that were forecast. However, a full broadcast team is on call, along with veteran BWT commentators like Pete Mel and Strider. A green light will be given 48 hours prior to the event running to ensure everyone is in Portugal and ready to go.