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Peʻahi Challenge, Big Wave Tour Season Officially Open

October 15, 2017, 8:55 AM HST · Updated October 15, 8:57 AM
Nikki Schenfeld · 0 Comments
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The World Surf League’s Northern Hemisphere portion of the Big Wave Tour officially opens today, Oct. 15, 2017.

Maui boy Billy Kemper en route to winning the final, and his second Peʻahi Challenge title. PC: Lyle Krannichfeld

Now through Feb. 28, 2018, the world’s best big wave surfers will prepare to take on three of the most challenging big wave breaks on the planet, Nazaré in Portugal, Peʻahi on Maui, and Mavericks in California.

The start date for the competition window for the Mavericks event -along with a traditional opening ceremony- will be set following the coordination with governmental agencies involved with the production of the event. The WSL’s acquisition of the permit for the contest was finalized last week.

“We are excited to get the Big Wave Tour back underway with the winter season,” said Mike Parsons, WSL BWT Commissioner. “We have the window for Nazaré and Peʻahi opening today and are working diligently with all agencies to finalize details for Mavericks. We appreciate the ongoing support from the local community, and we anticipate a great season and epic conditions for the world’s best big wave surfers.”

The Northern Hemisphere season will welcome back the Women’s Peʻahi Challenge for its second year. A decorated lineup of the leading big wave surfers has been invited to compete at the famed break in Haʻikū, Maui.

Maui’s Paige Alms won at last year’s inaugural event. This year’s event will feature six women battling in a one-off Final for the prestigious win.

The world’s best female big wave surfers will also have the opportunity to compete at Mavericks this upcoming season. The WSL Commissioner’s Office will work with a committee made up of Mavericks surfing icons to select six of the best female big wave surfers. The committee will consider performance results from the 2016 WSL Big Wave Awards, experience surfing at Mavericks, and overall big wave experience at all big wave locations around the world.

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The men’s division for the Northern Hemisphere events will consist of a 24-man field, comprised of the Top 10 finishers of the 2016/2017 BWT season, six event wildcards, three BWT wildcards, one injury wildcard, and the Top 4 Surfline Overall Performance of the Year Award recipients.

The six event wildcards for the Mavericks Challenge will be selected by a committee made up of Mavericks legends and experts.

Maui’s Kai Lenny won the first 2017/2018 Big Wave Tour event at the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico. Lenny leads the men’s BWT rankings with Jamie Mitchell (AUS) in second place, Tom Lowe (GBR) in third and Billy Kemper (HAW) in fourth.

Mitchell, the 2016 and inaugural Nazaré Challenge winner, will look to defend his event title in Portugal. Maui’s Kemper has dominated the Peʻahi Challenge since its introduction to the WSL Big Wave Tour and will look for his third-consecutive win at Jaws.

WSL Big Wave Tour officials will monitor swell producing storms for the next four-and-a-half months and watch for the conditions that will produce waves in the 30-to-60-foot range. Once the call is made, competitors will have 72 hours notice to be ready to compete.

2017/18 BWT Men’s Nazaré Challenge:

Invitees: Grant Baker, Pedro Calado, Greg Long, Jamie Mitchell, Billy Kemper, Nic Lamb, Will Skudin, João De Macedo, Cristian Merello, Kai Lenny, Makuakai Rothman, Lucas Chianca, Francisco Porcella, Trevor Sven Carlson, Tom Lowe, Garrett McNamara, Alex Botelho, Tom Butler, Andrew Cotton, Antonio Silva, Hugo Vau, Nic Von Rupp
Event Alternates: Kealii Mamala, Natxo Gonzalez
Performer of the Year Alternates: Peter Mel, Nathan Florence, Jojo Roper

2017/18 BWT Men’s Pe’ahi Challenge:

Invitees: Grant Baker, Pedro Calado, Greg Long, Jamie Mitchell, Billy Kemper, Nic Lamb, Will Skudin, João De Macedo, Cristian Merello, Kai Lenny, Makuakai Rothman, Lucas Chianca, Francisco Porcella, Trevor Sven Carlson, Tom Lowe, Shane Dorian, Ian Walsh, Albee Layer, Mark Healey, Aaron Gold, Tyler Larronde
Event Alternates: Shaun Walsh, Danilo Couto, Torrey Meister
Performer of the Year Alternates: Peter Mel, Nathan Florence, Alex Botelho

2017/18 BWT Women’s Pe’ahi Challenge:
Invitees: Paige Alms, Justine Dupont, Andrea Moeller, Keala Kennelly, Felicity Palmateer, Bianca Valenti
Alternates: Emily Erickson, Nicole Pacelli, Laura Enever

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com

Nikki Schenfeld
Nikki joined the Maui Now team in 2016 as a writer/reporter. Originally from Chicago, she has had internships with CBS2 Chicago and Comcast SportsNet Chicago where she had the opportunity to interview some of Chicago's best athletes. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2010 with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism. She moved to Maui in 2013.
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