The world’s best big wave surfers are on heightened alert as the World Surf League (WSL) commences the windows for both the Billabong Pico Alto and Puerto Escondido Challenge Big Wave Tour (BWT) events.
Having already completed the Quiksilver Ceremonial Chile at Punta de Lobos, won by reigning WSL BWT Champion Makuakai Rothman (HAW), the 2015/2016 WSL BWT season is off to a strong start.
“Our goal this season is to run as many Big Wave Tour (BWT) events as possible in the largest surf on the planet,” Pete Mel, WSL BWT Commissioner, said. “We had great waves in Chile and we’re very excited about what looms on the horizon – including the addition of Puerto Escondido.”
The Billabong Pico Alto in Peru and the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico, along with Quiksilver Ceremonial which has already run, comprise the Southern Hemisphere (swells generated off of Antarctica) half of the 2015/2016 BWT season. Commencing in October and November will be the Northern Hemisphere (swells produced in the Northern Hemisphere) half of the season that includes Lincoln City, Punta Galea, Pe’ahi and Todos Santos.
Each event features a competitive field of the 24 best big wave surfers in the world, comprised of the Top 10 finishers on the 2014/2015 BWT season, six event wildcards, six BWT wildcards and the two of six qualifiers from last season’s Video Qualification Challenge including Trevor Carlson (HAW), Nick Vaughan (USA), Mark Mathews (AUS), James Taylor (ZAF), Jamie Sterling (HAW) and Derek Dunfee (USA).
The Billabong Pico Alto was the only Southern Hemisphere event last season to experience the required wave size, taking place on Thursday, July 3, 2014 in 40-foot waves where Rothman claimed his maiden BWT victory.
While the intention at Chile was to deliver quality highlight packages in short time, the WSL has evolved its position to ensure that all BWT events will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com
- Quiksilver Ceremonial: Punta de Lobos, Chile (April 15, 2015 – August 31, 2015) – won by M. Rothman (HAW) $50,000
- Billabong Pico Alto: Pico Alto, Peru (May 15, 2015 – August 31, 2015) $50,000
- Puerto Escondido Challenge: Puerto Escondido, Mexico (May 15, 2015 – August 31, 2015) $75,000
- Oregon Challenge: Lincoln City, Oregon (October 15, 2015 – February 28, 2016) $50,000
- Punta Galea Challenge: Punta Galea, Basque Country Spain (October 15, 2015 – February 28, 2016) $50,000
- Pea’hi Challenge: Haiku, Hawaii (October 15, 2015 – February 28, 2016) $100,000
- Todos Santos Challenge: Todos Santo, Mexico (November 15, 2015 – February 28, 2016) $75,000
In addition to the BWT events, the WSL has activated this season’s Video Qualification Challenge that will reward outstanding big wave performances from outside of competition with the chance to contest with the elite next season.
The Video Qualification Challenge invites aspiring BWT surfers to submit video footage of themselves battling huge surf to the WSL Big Wave Awards (BWA) where a specialized committee will review the performances and select four qualifiers that will compete full-time on the 2016/2017 WSL Big Wave Tour.
“One of the biggest challenges we’ve had in big wave surfing for decades is the development of a career pathway,” Mel continued. “The setting of the Big Wave Tour provides an environment for the world’s best big wave surfers to perform and the Video Qualification Challenge not only embraces technological advancements but also provides an opportunity to reward those committed to chasing the world’s best big waves throughout the year.”
For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.