Grant “Twiggy” Baker (ZAF) leads the 2016/17 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) rankings heading into the second half of the season. With the closing of the Southern Hemisphere window today, the BWT now looks ahead to the Northern Hemisphere leg, which opens on October 15, 2016 and runs through February 28, 2017.
The first half of the BWT witnessed intense action at the Puerto Escondido Challenge as monstrous 35-foot surf at the exceptionally powerful beachbreak, known as the “Mexican Pipeline,” pushed the top big wave surfers to their limits. Baker, 2013/14 BWT Champion who came into the event as a wildcard, claimed victory at the event and will look to hold onto his lead going into the Northern Hemisphere half of the season.
Baker is trailed closely by a competitive field of big wave chargers, including reigning two-time BWT Champion Greg Long (USA), who captured second place at the Puerto Escondido Challenge and sits in second on the rankings, and 20-year-old Pedro Calado (BRA), who holds onto third place behind the BWT veterans.
Due to abnormally slow swell production in the deep South Pacific, the other two BWT events scheduled for the Southern Hemisphere window — the Billabong Pico Alto Challenge in Punta Hermosa, Peru and the Quiksilver Punta de Lobos Challenge in Pichilemu, Chile — did not run because both venues failed to deliver surf of the required size (25 feet or more).
“We were thrilled to call on the inaugural world-class big wave event at Puerto Escondido this season,” said Peter Mel, WSL BWT Commissioner. “That competition has definitely set the tone going into the Northern Hemisphere event window. We were disappointed that the appropriate swell systems did not materialize within the waiting period to run the Billabong Pico Alto and the Quiksilver Punta de Lobos Challenge this season, but we are excited for what’s on tap this winter with the Pe’ahi Challenge, the Todos Santos Challenge and, newest edition to the BWT, the Nazaré Challenge.”
The second half of the prestigious BWT will witness the world’s best big wave surfers take on three infamous Northern Hemisphere breaks, including the return of the Pe’ahi Challenge in Maui, Hawaii and the Todos Santos Challenge in Baja California, Mexico. In addition, the Northern Hemisphere season will see the debut of the Nazaré Challenge in Portugal. Each event will feature 24 of the best big wave surfers battle for $100,000 in prize money and a commemorative watch from BWT sponsor TAG Heuer.
A highlight of the Northern Hemisphere season will be the introduction of the BWT Women’s Championship event, which will run in conjunction with either the Pe’ahi Challenge or the Todos Santos Challenge based on the ideal swell scenario. Twelve top female competitors will also be standing by, waiting for Commissioner Peter Mel to make “The Call” and give the breakthrough contest the green light.
Another fresh component of the WSL Big Wave Tour will be an opening ceremony to herald the arrival of the winter competitive season. Plans are underway for a gathering of the big wave tribe in Nazaré, Portugal to launch the waiting period for all three events amid a festive European atmosphere on October 15, 2016.
A one-hour highlight show of the Puerto Escondido Challenge will air on CBS Sports on September 6, 2016 at 7:00 PM EST.
The 2016/17 BWT season is divided into Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere components hosting three possible events within each. The Southern Hemisphere window runs from April 27 to August 31, 2016 with event options in Mexico, Chile and Peru. The Northern Hemisphere window runs from October 15, 2016 to February 28, 2017 with event options in Portugal, Hawaii and Mexico.
Proud partners of the WSL BWT include TAG Heuer, Samsung Galaxy, GoPro and Corona.
For more information, log onto WorldSurfLeague.com.
2016/2017 WSL Big Wave Tour Schedule:
Northern Hemisphere: October 15, 2016 – February 28, 2017
Nazaré Challenge: Nazaré, Portugal
Pe’ahi Challenge: Haiku, Hawaii
Todos Santos Challenge: Todos Santos, Mexico