WSL redesigns its approach to big wave surfing

September 2, 2019 | Surfing
Mateia Hiquily: he might be chasing swells with WSL | Photo: Dunbar/WSL

The World Surf League (WSL) announced the end of the Big Wave Tour and its competitive format.

The professional surfing circuit decided to create a digital platform that will deliver big wave surfing content based around four major pillars.

There will be the "Strike Missions" series, the Jaws Big Wave World Championships at Peahi, the Nazaré Tow Challenge, and the Big Wave Awards.

In other words, the organization led by Sophie Goldschmidt will chase swells, rather than wait for big waves to break in specific locations.

WSL will track swell models and deploy camera teams into the eye of the storm to showcase big wave surfing beyond the classic competition format.

These "Strike Missions" will be complemented by a paddle-in event in Jaws/Peahi and a tow-in contest in Nazaré's Praia do Norte.

The holding period for both competitions will open on November 1, 2019, and run through March 31, 2020.

Finally, the achievements and accolades will be highlighted at the annual Big Wave Awards.

Paige Alms: showing no fear at Jaws | Photo: Cestari/WSL

The Curse of Mavericks

The bad news is that there will be no stand-alone event in Mavericks. After buying the license to run the show, WSL decided to drop the iconic competition.

"Mavericks will not continue as a WSL event due to various logistical challenges, as well as the inability to run the event the last two seasons," notes WSL.

However, the Big Wave Awards and the "Strike Missions" will likely feature waves ridden at the infamous Northern California spot.

Goldschmidt and her team have also launched the Big Wave Development Fund. The initiative will develop big wave safety, and set up workshops and clinics that improve athletes' knowledge in this field.

"I believe that the new approach is going to reflect the reality and adaptability of big wave surfing. Incredible feats happen at any time," said Keala Kennelly.

"I am excited about the big wave surfing's new direction. We all have different backgrounds and different focuses. This will make the discipline special because, despite these differences, we are all trying to achieve the same goals," added Maya Gabeira.

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