Puerto Escondido challenge was a great spectacle to watch, but the next two events are the real deal.
Without wishing to take anything away from it, Puerto Escondido is definitely the little sister of the Big Wave Tour. She offers man-size barrels and beat-downs, but she is 3rd in a list of three such venues. The recent Puerto Escondido challenge was a great spectacle to watch, but the next two events are the real deal.
Last year the Nazaré Challenge was a mind-spin. It was monstrous, it looked like the surf conditions where we would witness someone dying, and there were enough situations that seemed beyond the scope of the safety teams on the jet skies. Not saying they were anything but skilled, it was just that when faced with 40-foot white waters, sometimes they were left with very little choices.
The surfers were heroic. Every wave paddled for looked like madness, and every wipeout looked like it could be a last. That everyone escaped unharmed was a miracle enough, but the performances from some of the surfers were inspirational madness. Jamie Mitchell surfed like a man on fire, but the retiring big wave hero of the day was second-placed Carlos Burle. The man wanted a win, and he wanted it badly. He was ready to whatever it took to get a victory, even if it included throwing himself over 50 foot ledges into fresh air.
It was Mitchell however, who emerged as Nazaré Champion, and this was the ride that put him into the crazy man category and helped him along the way to win him the Surfline Men's Overall Performance Award.
“I want to win a World Title and continue to chase the biggest swells around the globe,” said Jamie after the awards last year. “If I can help in anyway to make the sport more visible and go to the next levels we all think it should be at, I'd be really stoked to help in someway for the future generations.”
The Pe’ahi Challenge is another event that is more big daddy than Playa Zicatela, and is a wave with the most serious of consequences. Just reminisce on this wave of Mark Matthews, the same wave that gave him a 2016 TAG Heuer Wipeout of the Year Entry into the WSL Big Wave Awards .
It’s a serious wave, and a level of commitment that much higher and more intense than some of the Escondido drops. Last year’s event at Pe’ahi was an absolute cracker, and the introduction of the women, while not necessarily fast-paced and full on, was a necessary introduction in our sport, and the first step in giving the girls a chance to charge. They had little choice. Take off and be counted, or pull back and miss the chance of a lifetime. You don't usually get invited back into a big wave event, men or women, if you don’t manage to catch a wave. While it might not be indicative of performance, it is necessary to go the extra distance when the world is watching.
Billy Kemper was the frothing Hawaiian at the Pe’ahi Challenge, and he did the double. This year he’ll be going for the triple, last seen as a Fleapeat, when Darryl “Flea” Virostko won three events at Mavericks. If Billy gets a third, it’ll be more hat trick that fleapeat, but either way, it could be an amazing record.
Talking of Flea though, it would be good to get Mavericks on the Big Wave Tour, a concept that has been spoken about, and interest has been shown by WSL. A little spot of politics and a large price tag are the only hindrances at the moment, but it is totally achievable, and it would nicely round off the tour.