With some intriguing storm activity turning in the Pacific a number of swells are headed toward Mexico and California during the busy week ahead. This bodes well for the Vans US Open of Surfing, of course, but the world's best big-wave riders are also loading up their travel bags. On Thursday morning, Mike Parsons, the new Commissioner of the WSL Big Wave Tour (BWT), announced the green light for the Puerto Escondido Challenge.
From the official WSL press release: "Today, the World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) is placing a Green Alert on the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, to commence either Sunday, July 30 or Monday, July 31 with projected 20-25 foot wave faces heading toward the region.
"We have been patiently waiting for Mother Nature to deliver the right swell, and we have one on the way," said Mike Parsons, WSL Big Wave Tour Commissioner. "We expect surf in the 20-to-25-foot face range that will make for some spectacular surfing. This swell we are tracking is from a very good direction for Puerto that should make for some amazing tube rides. Based on the forecasts, we will keep both Sunday and Monday open as an option to run."
Puerto Escondido has been a big-wave hot spot for more than 40 years. The famed Mexican beachbreak is world renowned for its shifty peaks, which can hold their shape even when swells top out at 25 feet.
Grant "Twiggy" Baker will be entering as both the defending event champion, and reigning BWT World Champion. He'll be joined by three other former BWT World Champions, including Greg Long, Makua Rothman and Peter Mel.
The 24-man field is compiled off of four separate lists. The first 10 invitees are decided directly off the previous year's Big Wave Tour rankings. Should anyone in the Top 10 not be available, a spot opens up for the next-highest rated surfer.
The local event promoters select six local wildcard entrants. In Puerto Escondido, those slots will be filled by longtime Puerto standouts Coco Nogales, Oscar Moncada and Jose Ramirez along with rising stars Angelo Lazano, Rogercin Ramirez and Jimel Corzo.
The WSL keeps four slots open at each stop to use at their discretion. One is an injury wildcard (being utilized by Makua Rothman in Puerto Escondido), the other three are based on blend of each surfer's big-wave skills, their experience at the venue, and their ability to draw in fans. Damien Hobgood and Peter Mel are two of the confirmed choices there.
The final four slots are chosen by the Big Wave Award committee, which sifts through all of the WSL Big Wave Award nominations when determining who will earn the final four slots. A blue-ribbon panel comprised of judges, surfers, and former award winners determines the ranking of this list, based on who's consistently showing up and performing when the surf gets serious. This is essentially the qualifying process for aspiring Big Wave Tour stars.
In Puerto Escondido those spots are being filled by Nathan Florence, Francisco Porcella, Trevor Sven Carlson and Great Britain's hard-charger Tom Lowe.
"We are thrilled to be heading back to Puerto Escondido to start this year's BWT season," continued Parsons. "What's unique about Puerto is how much power the wave has and how hollow it breaks. Unlike Pipeline or Teahupo'o, Puerto breaks on a very shallow sand bar that makes for some of the steepest drops of any wave in the world. We are excited to see this wave challenge the very best big wave surfers on the planet."
Surfline's Official Forecast:
A series of large, overlapping SSW swells will build into Puerto Escondido from Saturday to Monday. For Sunday we'll look for the largest waves in the morning, with face size in the 15-20' range, with max sets pushing 25' faces early. A temporary easing trend takes over through the morning and into the afternoon on Sunday. On Monday, reinforcing SSW swell fills in through the morning and looks largest for the later morning and into the afternoon with size up slightly from Sunday with 15-25' faces. The very largest sets of the day push 28-foot faces. While these aren't giant swells by Puerto standards, they are from an ideal SSW direction, which will provide excellent shaped waves many makeable barrels.
The event will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on Facebook Live via the WSL's Facebook page. Also check the local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal and as part of the EDGEsport Network.
2017 BWT Puerto Escondido Competitor List
João de Macedo
Trevor Sven Carlson