World Surf League says hasta luego to Puerto Escondido
It has been a fairly quiet couple of months for the Big Wave Tour recently, without any big swells and waiting periods combining successfully to get the best big wave surfers in the world out there and competing.
There have been a few changes though, and a quick look at www.worldsurfleague.com will reveal some of them.
Most notably is that the Puerto Escondido Challenge is no longer on the tour. The event has always been a great spectacle, and no one will forget Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker’s win in 2016 that he banked with a 10-point-ride in the final, a wave that saw him entered into the WSL Big Wave Awards in 2017 as a result.
To be honest however, while it is a great event to watch and a venue that lends itself to excellent webcasting coverage and viewer excitement, Puerto Escondido might not rank as a legitimate big wave location for the tour. It’s just not in the same league.
The good news is that it has been replaced by Mavericks, and no one is ever going to doubt that scary-as-fuck venue as the real deal for a big wave shoot-out. One just has to have a look at Mark Healey getting caught inside in 2014 to relive the terror that that venue gives to the best big wave surfers in the world –
So while Puerto always guaranteed a spectacle that included a pounding but photogenic shorebreak; plenty of waves ridden, heavy wipe-outs, and points on the board for the finalists and for those chasing the world title, it never gave the true picture of how sketchy big wave surfing is, and how gnarly those other big wave joints are. With Mavericks joining Pe’ahi and Nazaré, the tour has three of the heaviest waves in the world now.
It can however be argued that the tour is not a reflection of a world tour in the fact that all three events are in the northern hemisphere and all of the southern hemi’ big wave spots are now out of the picture. However, if the WSL BWT manage to run the three events at those three spots on legitimate big wave days in Tier 2 or Tier 3 conditions*, you will see an authentic big wave world champion emerge. Puerto was never going to be more than a Tier 1 event, so it’s a fair call.
The other good news is that the Women’s Big Wave Tour will also get a start at Mavericks, joining Pe’ahi on their two-event big wave tour. There are a bunch of girls who hit Mavericks whenever it’s going, so they will obviously be stoked to have a chance to compete at this level in some of the biggest waves in the world.
The 2108/2019 season kicks off on October 1, and runs until March 15. Let’s hope they get to surf at all three events to legitimize this new-look big wave tour.
If there were one other venue to make up a Big Wave World tour, which one should it be? Todos? Dungeons? Feel free to comment.
Big Wave World Tour schedules 2018/2019
* From the WSL Website: “The tiered system awards victors on bigger waves more points toward their season-end total. The tiers are in 10-foot increments: Tier 1: 25 to 35 feet, Tier 2: 35 to 45 feet, and Tier 3: 45-plus feet - with a 25 percent increase in total points as you move up. Thus, a winner of an event with 25-to-30-foot waves will earn 10,000 points, 12,500 points for tier two size waves, and 15,625 points for waves upwards of 45 feet. In each tier, points are decreased 20 percent moving down in finishes.”