Stab Magazine | Makua Rothman wins the Billabong Pico Alto
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Makua Rothman wins the Billabong Pico Alto

Words by Craig Jarvis It all happened with speed. The swell looked solid, and both Peru and Chile came on the radar. They both had potential. The pressure fell onto the sturdy shoulders of Big Wave Commissioner Pete Mel. He pondered and the decision came to him, possibly in a dream, and he called it […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Words by Craig Jarvis

It all happened with speed. The swell looked solid, and both Peru and Chile came on the radar. They both had potential. The pressure fell onto the sturdy shoulders of Big Wave Commissioner Pete Mel. He pondered and the decision came to him, possibly in a dream, and he called it on for Samsung Galaxy ASP Big Wave World Tour event number one: the Billabong Pico Alto in Peru. What a decision.

It was a gathering of greats, with the ASP’s Paul Speaker going onto the webcast in the first few minutes, interviewed by Raspberry, and followed by the visuals of a jetski floundering on the inside as big close-outs slammed through the lineup. This was followed quickly by views of a glamorous-looking Sam George, standing fashionably on the focus-edge of camera shot, and another jetski in difficulty as thunderous waves poured through the lineup, and back to another shot of Sam George biting his lower lip, looking pensive. It was drama! It was global excitement! There were Hawaiians and Americans, South Africans and Peruvians, all going as hard as they could in monstrous surf. It was exactly what the ASP Big Wave World Tour needed – a full-on big-wave event called on, and run, in giganticness.

Miguel Tudela from Peru was the standout of the first round, charging with a style and character beyond his tiny frame and 19 years on the planet. He’s been alive for less than some people in the event have been surfing for. He calmly threw himself over the ledge into one massive backhand free-fall into a double free-fall in the first heat, to set the tone for the day into one of charging with confidence.

Shawn Dollar was another who charged over the ledge in the chunky 30 to 40-foot sets, with one big drop a breathtaking free-fall into nothing, which he managed to hang on to with tiptoes to ride through to the channel.

The final was big wave all-star: Greg Long, Grant Baker, and Makua Rothman, joined by Gabriel Villaran, Shawn Dollar and Anthony Tashnick. Greg Long just couldn’t get around the corner on a huge set wave and wore it, and Twig had an uncharacteristically bad heat, not catching a wave for the first 50 minutes of the one-hour final. In fact, the final start was slow, the most exciting part being Shawn Dollar getting hammered by a set and being washed all the way through the impact zone. Slow, that is, until Makuakai rode an incredible set wave midway through the heat. He got hung at the top in the updraft, as the wave doubled up underneath him. He managed to get his board over the ledge, and what an award-winning ledge it was. A fin-skipping free-fall into a lean-over into the face of one of the biggest set waves of the day. It smelt like disaster, then it looked like a miracle recovery, and it ended up being a cracker, for which the judges awarded an average of 9.4. This was doubled as his top wave, and the Hawaiian was back into a most dramatic lead. He hung in there until the end, chased to the quick by Shawn Dollar and Anthony Tashnick. One wave in particular saw Dollar take off deep, lose it and fly over the falls for a second total hammering, while Tazzy rode the same wave all the way to the inside corner.

Local kid Gabby Villaran was in fourth, and Twiggy managed to get one enormous 40-foot plus wave, but it engulfed him on the inside. So solid was it, and with Twig making one of the biggest drops of the day, he was awarded 8 points, and it was doubled as his only (best) ride for 16.00 points to put him in fifth place. “That’s what happens,” said commentator Stansfield of an unlucky Twig. “Sometimes you just draw bad cards.” Makua, who became a first-time dad on Monday, would take the win in his first big wave event.

Makua told the gathered crowd that this is what he wants to do going forward. “I went on the QS and just struggled, you know,” he said. “I am Makuakai, Father of the Sea. I am so honoured to surf with Greg Long and Twiggy and Tazzy and Gabriel, and this is for all you brahs. Aloha.”

When he was asked about that wave, the wave of the final, Makua was smiling along with the memory. “I thought I was going over the falls to tell you the truth,” said Makua. “I took a little page out of Dorian’s handbook- a little front-side hand-slide to help you make the drop.”

And just like that, the first event of the Big Wave World Tour was over, and Makua let out a final cheer. “Viva Peru. Eh? Yaah!” Viva Peru indeed. It was a tier-two event, so that meant 25% bonus points for all. It was time for champagne.

Final Results
1. Makua Rothman (Haw) 27.33
2. Anthony Tashnick (USA) 22.00
3. Shawn Dollar (USA) 20.26
4. Gabriel Villaran (Peru) 16.80
5. Grant Baker (South Africa) 16.00
6. Greg Long (USA) 7.00

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