The second leg of the 2015/2016 Big Wave Tour opened October 15 and with Surfline tracking a strong El Niño weather pattern, the world's best big wave chargers are anticipating an exciting season as winter approaches in the Northern Hemisphere.
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 pack of elite Big Wave surfers. But with four events that can run at any point through February 28, 2016, his next experience with the BWT has only just begun.
Rothman solidified his first World Title with a runner-up finish at last year's Punta Galea Challenge in Spain's Basque Country, the only event that had waves big enough to compete in during the second half of the 2014/2015 season. Making the call to greenlight an event is a challenging endeavor for the entire Big Wave Tour staff, but with the Surfline lead forecast team predicting a major El Niño for the upcoming winter, there is great collective hope for this year's potential.
"I don't think you will find a Big Wave surfer in the world who doesn't believe this winter has a chance to be one of the greatest of all time," said Peter Mel, former Big Wave World Champion and Commissioner of the WSL's Big Wave Tour. "Everyone is training hard and preparing themselves physically and mentally for whatever the oceans have in store for us in the coming months. I surfed through the last two major El Niños in 1982/83 and 1997/98, and like anyone who experienced the surf in Hawaii or on the West Coast will tell you, those seasons were legendary. If this winter even approaches those levels, it's going to be a show not to be missed."
The WSL Big Wave Tour Northern Hemisphere event window runs between October 15 - February 28, 2016 and the schedule includes the following four events. Click to see each event and guide with full invite lists:
The addition of the Oregon Challenge coupled with the predicted El Niño has Big Wave Tour organizers hopeful about the odds of successfully running multiple events. Each event features a competitive field of the 24 best Big Wave surfers in the world, including the Top 10 finishers from the 2014/2015 BWT rankings, plus a diverse assortment of wildcards made up of local specialists and globally respected Big Wave legends. For a full list of competitors for each event, see the BWT section of the WSL website.
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 in San Diego, Calif.
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 around 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.
Check the WSL website for the latest information regarding Big Wave Tour calls. Plus, download the WSL App and sign up to receive event alerts.