Puerto Big Wave Challenge Weekend
First stop on the 2016 ASP Big Wave World Tour: Puerto Escondido!
The much anticipated weekend of fireworks came in fast with people filling the streets all week long ready for some crazy surfers surfing some crazy waves. The night before the contest started, we were blasted by a huge storm walking down to see the sunset and ran quickly for cover downtown at a Restaurant we have't been to yet called "Sativa". There we witnessed the biggest storm of the year so far, lightning pounding all around us, thunder shaking tables and everyone's drink, and rain flooding through the streets like rivers. It was an amazing site and we were super happy to be under shelter. We sat down for tacos right next to a couple surfers and I quickly noticed I was sitting right next to Strider Wasilewski, a retired professional surfer and commentator for the big wave world tour event. Cboo and I quickly started conversations about the structure of the surf event happening in the morning, the surf in Puerto back in the 80's and 90's, and a grip of other interesting things about these surfers who have traveled around the world since they were grommets (young surfers). We shared some laughs, fish tacos, and tequila toasts for the upcoming swell in the morning.
The next day you could here the surf throughout the whole town it was so big. We scattered quickly down the beach to see a huge scene of people, cars, electronic equipment, policia, and 6 surfers out in the lineup. The waves were better down on the south end of the beach so we just parked it and watched the action. It was difficult to know the scores, which surfer was in what color jersey, and where the best waves were. It made it all the more fun because you had no idea what to expect on every wave. There was little consistency on both days of the contest with the shape of the waves. Some sets were completely closed out, while others sets broke down the beach, and then their would be cleanup sets where all the surfers would barely make it through or over the 30 foot walls of water coming towards them. Their was an amazing amount of water safety and help throughout the ocean, I counted at-least 10 jet ski's in the water patrolling every inch of a crash or a surfer needing a tow back out to the lineup. Many times it was impossible to paddle out without the jet ski assist. The surfers caught plenty of waves because the heats lasted i believe, 75 minutes long, which meant you can easily find a huge wave before the horn blows.
The first day was 24 big wave surfers in 4 heats, the next day had 3 heats with 12 surfers left; 2 semi-final heats and one final heat at the end. The second day we watched a spectacular final with by far the best surfers of the whole event. Every surfer was taking off on huge 30 foot walls of water to find the best score, there was little doubt of fear in the lineup because every surfers was fully committed to not only win the event and a $30,000 but to be on the top of the rankings for the start of the year.
At the end we saw the title go to Grant "Twiggy" Baker, a South African 2x Maverick's champ take home first place. He came on to the contest as an injury wild card replacement and decided to steal the whole show with a ten point ride in the Final (pictures below!) Congrats to Twiggy and to all these guys for putting on an amazing show and risking their lives in some of the biggest surf I've ever witnessed. No one was hurt or injured and In my eyes I feel like they all won something here in Puerto Escondido!
In cased you missed anything feel free to watch the event here: