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Green Alert: Nazaré Challenge, Maui Surfers Look to Remain in Top 3

February 9, 2018, 11:33 AM HST · Updated February 9, 11:37 AM
Nikki Schenfeld · 0 Comments
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BWT Nazare Challenge 2016. PC: WSL/Masurel

The World Surf League Big Wave Tour has placed the Nazaré Challenge in Portugal on Green Alert, set to take place tonight, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, at 10 p.m. HST.

Praia do Norte (North Beach), is a notorious break known for its powerful waves and dangerous whitewater speeds. In 2011, Hawaiʻi’s Garret McNamara claimed to have broken the world record for the largest wave ever surfed, a 90-foot wave at Nazaré.

The big wave field will be put to the ultimate test as contenders battle the infamous break that has long been considered inaccessible to paddle-in-surfing.

“We are excited about what we are seeing at Nazaré,” said Mike Parsons, WSL Big Wave Tour Commissioner. “With a solid swell coming from the NW, we are looking at around 9-to-12 feet of deepwater swell that will translate to 25-to-35 foot faces by mid-morning and potentially pushing 40-feet later in the day. There is potential that the winds might come up when we run, so we plan to start early in the morning and finish before it comes up too high.”

The second-ever Nazaré Challenge will see the world’s best including defending event winner Jamie Mitchell (AUS) and Kai Lenny (HAW), current Big Wave Tour rankings leaders, who will look to improve his 13th place finish at Nazaré in 2016.

Maui boys currently lead the WSL’s Big Wave Tour rankings, with Lenny in first, Billy Kemper in second, and Ian Walsh in third. North Shore’s Makuakai Rothman is in fourth and Mitchell rounds off the top five.

Heat 1 is set to begin at 8 a.m. local time, Saturday, Feb. 10 in Portugal, 10 p.m. HST tonight, Friday, Jan. 9.

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Heat 1: Maui’s Billy Kemper, Pedro Calado (BRA), Joao De Macedo (PRT), Lucas Chianca (BRA), Nathan Florence (HAW), and Hugo Vau (PRT)

Heat 2: Jamie Mitchell (AUS), Carlos Burle (BRA), Aaron Gold (HAW), Peter Mel (USA), Alex Botelho (PRT), and Tom Butler (GBR)

Heat 3: Maui’s Kai Lenny, Makuakai Rothman (HAW), Cristian Merello (CHL), Francisco Porcella (ITA), Natxo Gonzalez (EUK), and Nic von Rupp (PRT)

Heat 4: Grant Baker (ZAF), Nic Lamb (USA), Tom Lowe (GBR), Maui’s Ian Walsh, Antonio Silva (PRT) and Kealii Mamala (HAW)

Maui’s Kai Lenny at the 2016 Nazare Challenge. PC: WSL / LAURENT MASUREL

The 2017/2018 WSL Big Wave Tour has completed its first two events of the season with Lenny winning the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico, and Walsh and Paige Alms (HAW) winning the Peʻahi Challenge on Maui.

Monitoring swell systems and weather patterns throughout the season, the Big Wave Tour only runs events when surf reaches the 30-foot-plus mark, mobilizing on 72 hours notice with an international field of Big Wave men’s and women’s athletes.

Surfline, Official Forecasters for the 2017/2018 Nazaré Challenge, are calling for:

XL to possibly XXL NW swell is developing for Nazare on Saturday the 10th thanks to a strong, double-barreled area of low pressure now stretching over Greenland. Model guidance indicates that wind of 40-45 knots will develop in this fetch over the next 12-24 hours, with seas of 35-40 feet also expected to develop just east of Greenland.

The swell looks to peak from around midday and hold over the afternoon with solid 25-35’+ faces and occasional sets to 40’+ faces. There will also be some short period NW swell running in the morning, which will give the surf at least somewhat of a jumbled feel, but that short period swell will ease through the day.

Wind, while not ideal, does look manageable. Offshore to side-offshore flow from the NE to NNE is currently expected in the morning in the 10-15 knot range, trending to side shore north at 15 knots+ from late morning through the afternoon.

For more information, check out 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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