The Nazaré event has been called on with Andrew Cotton and Tom Butler in the starting line up… Looks like Tuesday is the first possible day. Fingers crossed the local wind cooperates.
WSL PRESS RELEASE
Today, the World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) is placing the Nazaré Challenge in Nazaré, Portugal, on Green Alert to commence on Tuesday, December 20, 2016. With a a series of major swells heading towards the region, all eyes will be on the world’s best big wave surfers as they take on the waves of Praia do Norte (North Beach), a break notorious for its powerful waves and dangerous whitewater speeds.
“We are excited to call the inaugural Nazaré Challenge on,” said Peter Mel, WSL Big Wave Tour Commissioner. “We have been closely tracking the WNW North Atlantic swell and see that everything should align for a Tuesday start. The waves are projected to be 35-45-foot-plus with favorable winds. We are all eager to see how the world’s best big wave surfers push the boundaries with the debut of this event.”
The highly-anticipated Nazaré Challenge is an all-new event on the WSL Big Wave Tour and will be the first paddle-in event to take place at the venue that put Portugal on the map as a big wave haven. The event will be contested by 24 of the best big wave surfers, led by BWT ratings leader Grant “Twiggy” Baker (ZAF), 2015/16 BWT Champion Greg Long (USA), as well as regional event wildcards Alex Botelho (PRT) and Andrew Cotton (GBR).
Surfline, official forecaster for the WSL, are calling for:
Significant storm activity in the North Atlantic in the next few days will deliver a series of XL to possibly XXL swells for Nazaré for most of next week. The first of these swells, which will arrive on Tuesday, is currently expected to produce waves of 30-40’ on the face, with the largest sets potentially hitting 50’ if the storm behaves as forecast in the next couple days. A similar size swell looks possible for Thursday before fading Friday. Local wind will be variable for much of next week, although does look favorable Tuesday morning, Wednesday morning and potentially all of Thursday and Friday.
While the competition is scheduled to start early in the morning Portugal time on Tuesday, December 20, organizers are also keeping the option open of competition days on Wednesday, December 21 and Thursday, December 22, should the local weather conditions call for it.
The Nazare Challenge will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com and on the WSL app.
The total prize purse for the Nazare Challenge is $100,000.
Nazaré Challenge Competitors:
Greg Long (USA)
Billy Kemper (HAW)
Nic Lamb (USA)
Carlos Burle (BRA)
Damien Hobgood (USA)
Cristian Merello (CHL)
Ramon Navarro (CHL)
Gabriel Villaran (PER)
Grant Baker (CHL)
Trevor Carlson (HAW)
Koa Rothman (HAW)
Jamie Mitchell (AUS)
Aaron Gold (HAW)
Kai Lenny (HAW)
Pedro Calado (BRA)
Will Skudin (USA)
Kealii Mamala (HAW)
Kohl Christensen (HAW)
Alex Botelho (PRT)
Hugo Vau (PRT)
Joao de Macedo (PRT)
Antonio Silva (PRT)
Andrew Cotton (GBR)
Tom Butler (GBR)
Congrats to Jordy who’s popped his Hawaiian event win cherry with first spot at Sunset. Big news for this side of the pond is the qualification of Frederico Morais and Joan ‘Fred’ Duru.
The Sunset event is the last hurrah for the QS and is the career making or breaking spot for QS hopefuls. Europe has done well for a change with new blood in the shape of powermongers Frederico Morais (PRT) and Joan Duru (FRA) making the cut and of course there’s the historic qualification of Italian Leonardo Fioravanti, tour stalwart Jeremy Flores has also sealed the deal for another go round in the big league. So plenty of Euro interest for next season. Now if we can just add a Brit and a Spaniard to the mix that’d be awesome.
Check out the Billabong Pipe Masters site here: http://pipemasters.billabong.com
WSL PRESS RELEASE
In the heaviest qualification event of the year, Jordy Smith (ZAF), No. 3 surfer in the world, took the win at the Vans World Cup and stamped out his first victory on Hawaiian waves. Undeniably the most on point athlete at the big wave venue today, Smith overtook a stacked Final that included Frederico Morais (PRT), Torrey Meister (HAW) and Tanner Gudauskas (USA).
“Unbelievable, can’t believe it,” said Smith. “I feel like this event has eluded me in the past. I didn’t have any expectations, I think that was the difference for this event. I just kind of went out there with an open mind. Thanks to everyone who supported me.”
A Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 rated event, the Vans World Cup marks Smith’s second competitive victory this year, his first a Championship Tour (CT) win at the Hurley Pro at Trestles in September. But a win in Hawaii has eluded him since he began competing professionally.
“Early in my career I made a couple finals out here, I really had something going with the place,” continued Smith. “I don’t know, it’s been like six or seven years where I just couldn’t do a thing right. And then, everything just came together this year so I’m just really happy.”
Gudauskas opened the Final with two waves for a leg up on competitors and set the tone with strong backhand turns and a 5.0 for keeps. Smith answered back with a super smooth 6.33 on an open face and demonstrated his tactful rail game and signature carves.
With priority, Morais dropped the first score of significance to take the lead, an 8.23 for a nice carve which set him up for a layback snap on the inside section. Steadily pacing himself throughout the event, Morais made few mistakes and jumped up the QS ratings to the No. 3 slot after his runner up finish today.
Meister, the most inform athlete representing Hawaii, went vertical on his first wave for a 4.77 and showed an uninhibited attitude with his commitment. But drama unfolded after Jordy secured an 8.73 – the highest single wave score of the Final – to shake up the final standings. Morais and Meister attempted to catch the South African with a few more waves, but Jordy’s excellent score cemented his lead on opponents and ultimately the win.
“He always fits this wave really well,” Meister said of Jordy after the awards ceremony. “He’s always one of the best guys out here. Just his hacks, he’s got probably the best hack in the business. He really suits this wave and he’s really powerful.”
Of monumental note was the seven qualifying hopefuls that reached the Quarterfinals, which made for a tense and highly dramatic second half of the day. Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Jack Freestone (AUS) and Jadson Andre (BRA) went on to compete in the Semifinals, which secured a 10th place position on the QS for Freestone and No. 8 for Andre. Lau sits in the 11th spot and need a double qualify situation in order to receive a slot into the 2017 CT.
The 2016 international QS came to a close after today’s event conclusion and sees a new organization of names in the top 10 spots. Athletes listed in order of 1st through 10th on the QS: Connor O’Leary (AUS), Ethan Ewing (AUS), Frederico Morais (PRT), Joan Duru (FRA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Ian Gouveia (BRA) and Jack Freestone (AUS).
The surf industry now moves to Pipeline where the Billabong Pipe Masters – the final event of the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour and last gem of the Vans Triple Crown – takes plae from December 8 – 20. Morais now leads the Vans Triple Crown ratings after John John Florence (HAW) was ousted in Round 4 by Tanner Gudauskas ,while Ethan Ewing (AUS) secured the Vans Triple Crown Rookie Award after today’s performance at Sunset Beach.
Surfers shown in order of 1st through 4th, all athletes from Hawaii unless otherwise noted.
1st – Jordy Smith (ZAF), 10000 points
2nd – Frederico Morais (PRT), 8000 points
3rd – Torrey Meister (HAW), 6700 points
4th – Tanner Gudauskas (USA), 6300 points
John Florence Crowned World Champion At The Meo Rip Curl Pro Peniche
Congratulations @johnjohnflorenc, 2016 World Champion!! Well deserved kid! 2016 MEO #RipCurlPro winner & @wsl World Champ. Obrigado Portugal,
— World Surf League (@wsl) October 25, 2016
In an absolutely insane day, 22-year-old John John Florence (HAW) clinched the 2016 World Surf League (WSL) Title with a victory at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal in Peniche. This is the first time a Hawaiian has held the world surfing crown since the late Andy Irons (HAW) in 2004.
“I honestly can’t believe it right now, it’s obviously not sunk in just yet,” Florence said. “I know my mom and family are watching online right now and I really wish they were here with me. I’m so stoked. I’ve worked my whole life towards this and I have so many people to thank for this.”
Florence’s season started out slowly with mediocre results across the Australian leg, including the Rip Curl Pro Bells, before posting a victory in Brazil in May. He carried the momentum of his Rio de Janeiro win to strong showings in Jeffreys Bay (2nd), Tahiti (2nd) and France (3rd) while challengers Gabriel Medina (BRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF) and 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) were unable to maintain consistency, eventually falling out of reach in Portugal. It was a tight win, with his success coming from both Medina and Wilkinson’s early round losses.
“It’s been a long year, but one of the best years in my life, so many fun events and just having a really good time all together and I’ve learned so much,” he continued. “I was expecting it to go to Hawaii and I was just trying to keep surfing through heats.
“My whole life has gone into this, everything I’ve done but just this year especially, learning so much about competitive surfing, focusing completely on it and having so much help and support, it’s been amazing.” Florence added. “The title was my goal this year so at this point I’m just going to go out and have fun.”
FLORENCE 2016 WSL CT RESULTS –
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast: 5th
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: 13th
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro: 13th
Oi Rio Pro: WINNER
Fiji Pro: 5th
J-Bay Open: 2nd
Billabong Pro Tahiti: 2nd
Hurley Pro at Trestles: 13th
Quiksilver Pro France: 3rd
Meo Rip Curl Pro Portugal: WINNER
Billabong Pipe Masters: TBD
FLORENCE CAREER WSL CT FINISHES:
2016: WSL CHAMPION
Photos: WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot
While John John was reigning victorious at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, the big wave surfers were further up the coast taking on Nazaré.
Courtesy: Turismo do Centro de Portugal