Puerto Escondido Pumps for Big Wave Tour Opener

Puerto Delivers
Jamie Mitchell leads charge on stunning Opening Day of the 2016 Big Wave Tour.

Jamie Mitchell was a bit nervous about having the fourth heat of the day. With the 9:00 a.m. start to the opening round of the Puerto Escondido Challenge, and 75-minute long heats to boot, Mitchell and his fellow Heat 4 competitors didn't hit the water until 12:45 p.m. which, in Puerto time, is playing with fire. The ferocious Mexican wave is famous for blowing out early.

Mitchell's Perfect 10
The Australian was near perfect in his Round One heat after nabbing a 10 point ride.

Fortunately for Mitchell, conditions held. In fact, Puerto Escondido was in camera-ready mode the moment he hit the water. "The tide was dropping, the winds stayed glassy and the swell was peaking," Mitchell explained. "I think we scored the best conditions of the day."

Mitchell Gets Oh So Close
The legendary Australian waterman got extremely close to scoring his second perfect ride of the day.

The scores reflected that, too. Greg Long, who won the first heat of the day with a 20.01 total, would have finished in 5th place had he earned that score in Mitchell's heat. Scores climbed all day long as the swell filled in.

Mitchell, who ended with the day's highest total of 29.03, opened with a long righthand cavern through which he traveled a good distance. He emerged after making it through a giant section, but his board tracked up the face upon exit, and he was ejected before he could come out clean.

Rothman Bounces Back
After taking a brutal beat down early on, the Hawaiian bounced back big to take the a crucial Round One win.

Now, in most events an incomplete ride is costly. The punishment by judges is brutal. But in big-wave events "bravado" is part of the scoring criteria, so the tables are completely turned. In fact, Mitchell was awarded solid points for every foot he traveled in that giant tube.

Long Opens Strong
In the first heat of the 2016 BWT season, the 2015 World Champion picks up where he left off.

It's a good thing too, because making it out of massive Puerto pits was not easy today. Several competitors advanced thanks to sheer guts, pulling into massive black holes knowing full well that the odds of escape were non-existent.

Will Skudin Takes Round One Win
New York's big-wave hero took control of Round One, Heat 2 at Puerto Escondido.

Puerto Escondido is a punishing wave, as Makuakai Rothman knows all too well. The Hawaiian had to take a little nap on the beach midway through his heat after getting slammed in the impact zone which, by the way, is often the larger penalty for not making it out of the tube. And while water security is keeping a close eye on competitors and ready to spring into action with rescue sleds, even they can't get them out of trouble immediately when sets are pounding them.

Rothman, much to the crowd's delight, paddled back out and came back firing with some solid scores and a commanding heat win over Pedro Calado, Carlos Burle and local charger Angelo Lozano.

Rothman Pays the Price
Makuakai Rothman paid a hefty toll for one of his massive Puerto barrels.

"This is my second time to Mexico and the waves are really fun," said Rothman. "The local boys charge."

They do indeed. All six of the Mexican surfers put in solid performances today, earning huge cheers from the crowd. In the end, Rogercin Ramirez and Jimel Corzo earned trips to the Semifinals.

Rogercin Ramirez Mexico's Rogercin Ramirez advanced to the Semifinal with his strong performance. - WSL / LUCANO HINkle

Corzo pushed Mitchell to the limit too. His 24.3 total was the fourth-highest of the entire day, and he looks very dangerous heading into the next round.

Opening Day Highlights from Mexico
The 2016 Big Wave Tour got off to an incredible start in Mexico.

While Greg Long and Will Skudin were the other impressive Round One heat winners, Mitchell stole the show Friday. After earning a 9.03 for his oh-so-close righthand tube, he delighted the judges and fans with an incredible backside barrel that included some tricky navigating to get out of. The ride earned him a perfect 10.0 from every judge, and secured him the day's most impressive win.

"It was an historic day," Mitchell said. "Incredible surf and incredible barrels."

Semifinal Heats
SF1 Greg Long, Albee Layer, Kai Lenny, Will Skudin, Grant Baker, Rogercin Ramirez
SF2 Makuakai Rothman, Pedro Calado, Carlos Burle, Jamie Mitchell, Jimel Corzo, Rusty Long

NEXT CALL: June 25, 2016, 7:30 a.m. CDT

Jimel Corzo advances from Round one, heat 4. Mexico's Jimel Corzo finished with the fourth-highest heat total of the day. - WSL / LUCANO HINkle