Stab Magazine | BWT Surfers Respond: Did The WSL Make The Right Call At Jaws Today?
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BWT Surfers Respond: Did The WSL Make The Right Call At Jaws Today?

Shane Dorian, Mark Healey, Grant Baker, Albee Layer and more weigh in. 

news // Nov 27, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Did the WSL make the right call by canceling today’s Jaws Challenge?

For the detached viewer, the answer is a hard no.

As we saw in heat one, there were incredible waves to be caught out there today, and seeing as how this is the Big Wave Tour, one would assume that the guys should be out there at least trying to get some, right?

Jah knows the women did. 

But if you’re part of the WSL, the answer to the question is different. They don’t want to be responsible for someone’s untimely death, and Jaws certainly had an air of lethality today.

But what if you’re a competitor?

Today’s highest scoring surfer, Billy Kemper, made clear his thoughts on the live webcast:

“Somebody will win ride of the year if they do call this thing off. It is gnarly, it is dangerous, but this is what we live and train for. We’re going for the Big Wave World Title, right? You want the biggest, nutsest waves in the world? This is it.”

After the event was called off, Albee Layer did his part to prove Kemper right, bagging these couple waves in the process.

But BWT Commissioner Mike Parsons saw things differently. He said he had directly consulted with the surfers, whose general hesitancy played a big role in the WSL’s decision to call the event off for the day.

We became curious which BWT surfers thought the WSL had made the right decision. A series of DMs begot the following responses [sic all]:

Russell Bierke (placed third in today’s only heat): Cheers! I think it’s really the smart decision, there was so much carnage in that one heat. The swell was far off peaking and the wind was only getting stronger. If it was glassy it would be a different story but with how heavy those waves were the makeable ones were few and far between. The 20 second period didn’t help either, I couldn’t believe how fast those waves were moving

Greg Long (straight forward): It was definitely the right call. Long period energy at that size with the wind that strong is nearly impossible to paddle. In that first heat there was only one successful wave ridden. With both the swell and wind forecasted to increase throughout the day it was only going to get more dangerous.

Mark Healey (the lunatic): I can’t see a whole lot of successful rides happening later. Oahu is the biggest it’s been since the last Eddie and getting bigger. Flying there now to get a surf before dark! [Author’s note: We regret to inform you that Oahu traffic prohibited Mark from reaching his destination on time.]

Lucas Chumbo (a most verified opinion, as Chumbo got throttled during his paddle effort after the comp was called off): Good call, it was too windy for paddle

Nathan Florence I don’t even know haha, it was so BIG, the limits would have been pushed or the actual limit reached if they kept going so I dont know haha, it was really nuts out there.

Jojo Roper (diplomatic!): When they called it off and a handful of guys went out to paddle, it was near impossible to line one up. Tomorrow will still be massive. Tough call.

Grant Twiggy Baker (almost got the wave of his life today): It’s was pretty tough out there with the period over 20sec and the wind and swell coming up fast. Probably too life threatening to keep running, but fuck me if that wasn’t the most exhilarating 45mins of my surfing life! Heavy heavy shit trying to commit to some of those sets.

Ryan Hipwood (ambiguous): Looking at it now and it’s the biggest I’ve seen it. And windy.

Francisco Porcella (in-depth!): The call was right I think. Everyone was going down.. but maybe staying on standby if the afternoon would die off.. I think we need to start looking at switching to towing.. and we all pull into big pits on every set.. it’s gonna be a good show and we can have six drivers for every heat and taking turns.. then we can see a comp that is ready for the action and will compete even if it get too windy to paddle.. I had a shocker with my driver that forgot to bring the rope and my rowboats and when we launched at maliko I was so set on my heat that I blew it to not tell him to go get it for me.. you gotta be prepared for what ever Pe’ahi throws at you.. with my brother we wanna tow kite again.. 🙂 it’s gonna happen this winter

Shane Dorian (fatherly): Yeah it was a difficult call. The water safety program wasn’t operating effectively at all so that added to how dangerous it was and it got way bigger and windier right after it was called off. I think someone or a few people would have got seriously hurt had they kept going. It was a tow day afternoon.

Albee Layer (grumpy in a funny way): I definitely wanted to surf. I was really excited. Don’t get me wrong, it was super scary, like super gnarly, but like what the fuck? That’s what we’re supposed to be doing, right?

Screen Shot 2018 11 26 at 3.04.06 PM

The women sure as hell did.

And there you have it.

The majority of BWT surfers, it would seem, back the WSL’s decision. As stated by Mr. Parsons, wind and interval did truly make the waves unsafe to ride. Of course “unsafe” is an extremely relative word to use around the BWT, but the point remains: many big wave surfers did not want to ride big waves at Jaws today.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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