Let’s unpack it.
There were two announcements recently that pointed to the future of competitive big wave surfing, and both of those announcements had some very positive, well, positives in them.
The first was the announcement of the Titans Of Mavericks nominee list.
There were some amazing names on that list for a number of reasons:
1. Dane Reynolds. He is not at home paddling out at 20 foot Mavs with an inflatable wetsuit on, but he is on that list so let’s hope he charges. It might be some sort of hidden agenda, or maybe the guy wants to charge. He doesn't have too much cred behind him apart from being the best surfer on the planet.
2. There are a bunch of WSL BWT surfers on that list. After the sanctions starting hitting home with the WSL surfers not allowed to compete at the Red Bull Cape Fear event. They were bummed, and voiced their bummedness, and it seemed that the WSL listened. On paper it seem that the situation needed to be recalibrated to make it fair for all, and hats off to the WSL to seeing that.
Josh Kerr, Jamie Mitchell, Mark Healey, Greg Long, Albee Layer, Shane Dorian, John John Florence and Jamie Sterling are all in the list of nominees. The WSL have slackened off a bit, and allowed their surfers to compete in a non-sanctioned event. Which is great, and gives them a chance of making some more bread.
3. Twiggy is in the mix. After his one-year ban after he circulated a petition to return 2013 champion and Santa Cruz native Peter Mel as an invitee, the Committee 5 have done the right thing and allowed him back in after the ban was up. Whether it was the right thing to do by banning him in the first place, the Committee 5 have at least kept their part of the agreement and allowed him to return to the event that has his name in the list of event winners. Twice. Twiggy couldn’t be contacted for a comment.
The second big announcement was the WSL announcing the 2016/2017 Big Wave Tour schedule right here.
There were a number of items in this release that might also have been somewhat overlooked.
1. Nazaré is really in. For real. How the fuck anyone is going to be able to paddle in on a set wave is anybody’s guess, but when it comes to pushing the boundaries of the sport, this is definitely one of the more important moments of the last few years. It might not barrel like Jaws, but it gets unfathomably large, and appears nigh impossible to paddle. Great vantage points for webcasts though.
"Nazaré has been long considered a spot inaccessible to paddle-in-surfing,” said Gary Linden, Founder and Vice President of the BWT, “but those barriers have been broken and it is time for the true test.”
The BWT has their safety systems finely tuned, and the safety team has already done a solid recce of the area and are confident with the venue.
2. With the inclusion of Nazaré, the Punta Galea Challenge in Basque Country has been relegated to a BWT QS event and along with Oregon Challenge at Nelscott Reef form the new 2-event BWT QS tour. Surfers now have a route to qualifying onto the BWT, which is awesome for all those up-and-comers. Just got to do a bit of traveling to get to those two events.
3. The Dungeons Challenge in Cape Town remains off the tour, but sources on the ground reveal that there is some work being done to get Dungeons back as a QS event. It will be a long and hard battle to get this back.
4. There is an inaugural girls event. The Women’s Championship will run in conjunction with either the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico or the Pea’hi Challenge in Haiki, Hawaii. The girls get their shot at last.
All in, a very positive outlook, with new events, a new qualifying tour, a women’s event, some gelling between WSL and the Mavericks board, and some gelling between Twig and the Committee 5.
Now all we need is another cracker season, as the northern hemisphere season opens up.