The WSL Big Wave Tour is on a green alert for its second event of the season, the Pe'ahi Challenge. This will be the first time a WSL Big Wave event will be run at the famous wave located off the coast of Maui, which will air live Sunday, December 6, starting at 7:30 a.m. local time. (Watch on the WSL website or WSL App).
"The first-ever big wave paddle-in event at Pe'ahi is about to become quite possibly the most impactful contest ever to be held in the short history of our sport," said Big Wave Tour VP Gary Linden. "It has been a very long road with a lot of curves along the way but patience is golden and I am sure we will be rewarded for the wait."
Big Wave Tour commissioner Peter Mel said, "Not only will this be a historic event at one of the most renowned waves on the planet, but we're excited to be broadcasting it live for surf fans around the world. The buoy readings are really strong and look to be well above the minimum requirement for a Big Wave event in the 35-to-45 foot range."
Note: The competition will be closed to the public due to environmental and safety concerns. There is no cliff access available for outside spectators to witness the event firsthand, but there will viewing parties (locations below) as well as a LIVE webcast at www.worldsurfleage.com.
Surfline originally began tracking the swell earlier in the week, which prompted a yellow alert. According to the latest report all signs point to an epic swell for the event.
For Sunday morning we still expect very solid 35-45'+ faces in the morning (20'+ Hawaiian) and I would not be surprised to see some sets in the 50'+ range on the face in the morning if the storm continues to behave as forecast in the next 24-48 hours.
Wind conditions look pretty good and there is still some wiggle room for improvement. As we mentioned yesterday, another low will approach and eventually sweep past the islands early next week. That should help to weaken trades over the course of the day, with wind trending from E to ESE, although exactly how much is still a bit up in the air. At this point we'll call for E wind 12-15kts through the morning, potentially backing down a bit in the afternoon and shifting toward the ESE.
Reigning Big Wave World Champion Makuakai Rothman (HAW) kicked off his season with a win at the Quiksilver Ceremonial in Punta de Lobos, Chile. As the only event in the Southern Hemisphere phase of the 2015/2016 season that ran, Rothman currently leads the BWT rankings.
Making the call to greenlight an event is a challenging endeavor for the entire Big Wave Tour staff, but with Surfline's lead forecast team having predicted a major El Niño for the winter, there was great hope for this year's event.
Comprised of 24 of the world's top big wave surfers, the Pe'ahi Challenge competitor list is as follows:
2015/2016 Pe'ahi Challenge Competitor List
WSL Big Wave Tour Top Ten Seeds
Makuakai Rothman (HAW)
Gabriel Villaran (PER)
Nic Lamb (USA)
Anthony Tashnick (USA)
Greg Long (USA)
Nathan Fletcher (USA)
Grant Baker (ZAF)
Natxo Gonzales (EUK)
Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Carlos Burle (BRA)
Alex Gray (USA)
Trevor Sven Carlson
Video Invitee Alternates
Mark Mathews (AUS)
Event Invitee Alternates
The GoPro Challenge, the contest-within-a-contest in which pros can submit videos for an additional prize, will run at the Pe'ahi Challenge. Due to the one-day format in big waves, surfers are invited to submit clips from waves surfed in competition only, for review by a judging panel made up of two WSL representatives, two GoPro representatives, and a guest judge.
The cinematographer for the winning video wins $10,000 -- not to mention bragging rights for riding giants and capturing it on film.
Big Wave Safety
During the break between the Big Wave Tour seasons, the WSL BWT Water Safety Team took advantage of the time off to meet for their annual safety training, and will be working diligently to ensure the safety of all competitors throughout the event.
Led by BWT Water Safety Manager Scott Eggers, team members from around the globe met at the San Diego Lifeguard Headquarters to perform a joint training with the Lifeguard service. This year the WSL brought on Dr. Terry Farrell as the Big Wave Tour's Medical Director; elevating the team to an Advanced Life Support (ALS) unit. Training focused on the review of response scenarios and development of Advanced Life Support protocols in an increased effort to safeguard the world's best big wave riders during Tour events and strike missions.
Pe'ahi Challenge Viewing Locations
Charley's Restaurant & Saloon
142 Hana Hwy, Paia, HI 96779
LuLu's Lahaina Surf Club & Grill
1221 Honoapiilani Hwy # A1
Lahaina, HI 96761-1797
Phone: (808) 661-0808