Chile Awakens for Big Wave Chargers

Paula Lehman

Martin Jeri paddles into a huge right and battles the whitewater at El Buey. Video by Christian Combe Aldana/Thruster Magazine.

Big wave chargers were up early at El Buey, Chile this week to catch the a massive swell that drew big wave chargers from around the world. A storm off the South Pacific brought waves of more than 20 feet, and a session of huge drops, tube rides and heavy wipeouts was on. Some of the performances became submissions for the 2016 Big Wave Awards.

The storm was so big that the QS 1,500 Maui and Sons Arica Pro Tour, a contest running nearby in El Gringo, was forced to shut down before the Semifinals.

Miguel Tudela (PER) (pictured at top), who made the Maui and Sons Semis, went from contest mode to big wave mindset and paddled out at El Buey. A sequence shot by Fabio Dias was immediately submitted to the Paddle Award category for the 2016 Big Wave Awards.

Arica, where both the QS contest ran and El Buey is situated, is unique: It sits adjacent to the driest desert in the world (Atacama) and features generally glassy conditions in the water. Just offshore is one of the deepest ocean trenches in the world, which helps the waves there to retain so much power.

The abruptness of the storm's arrival meant that fewer international surfers could make it -- leaving local chargers to enjoy more for themselves. Martin Jeri (PER), who bowed out in Round 2 of the QS event, made his way over to El Buey and pulled into some of the day's biggest waves. His power on the huge rights were submitted to several Big Wave Award categories, including the Billabong Ride of the Year.

Need more big waves? Soak up all the Big Wave Award submissions here, including videos from the recent strike mission at Teahupo'o, Tahiti.