The Greatest Big Wave Event On Earth May Run This Week(end)
From Nazaré to Jaws in 72 hours?
“It’d be a nightmare to do,” Albee Layer tells Stab after hearing the Pe’ahi Challenge may run either Friday or over the weekend.
The nightmare: The majority of the world’s best big wave surfers are currently in Portugal, waiting on the potential BWT event at Nazaré -- Portugal to Maui in a few days notice is, well, hectic. When asked if he’s in Portugal waiting on Nazaré, Albee explains his hatred for the whitewashed avalanche. “We’re just doing a little film trip,” he says. “We were showing Nervous Laughter, our big wave movie, at the London Film Festival and came over here for the swell.”
Yesterday, during a random meeting in North Baja, Dino Andino (father of Kolohe) told me Jaws might go. This morning, I woke up to a text simply stating, “Snips (Mike Parsons, BWT Commish) reckons they might run Jaws.” So, as is tradition for anything Jaws, messages were sent to Albee and Shane Dorian (who was on his way down to Mex). Following the “delivered” note, it dawned on me that neither gentlemen are on the 2017 BWT roster. “Nah man, I fell off,” laughs Albee. “I’m a wildcard for the Jaws event though.”
“At this point I’d say it’s about a 50/50 chance it’ll go,” he continues. “Looking at the forecast, the swell looks good. But, right now, it looks like it might peak overnight. The winds say that they’ll be light, but on Maui the winds are never light. As a rule you should always add five miles-per-hour to the wind forecast. If it’s north winds, that sucks. You can’t really get barreled and the wave will be bumpy. But if the winds back off, it’s a definite possibility. I don’t think this swell is going to be good enough for Nazaré to run anyway.”
The waiting period for both of the events are identical (Oct 15-Dec 31). However, the probability of both venues having enough swell to potentially go in the week is rare, especially in a sector of the WSL that’s notorious for not running events due to surf not reaching the heights necessary for a big wave event – an issue that has led to this year’s BWT trifecta (Puerto, Jaws, Nazaré).
“I talked to Greg Long (also not on the BWT roster) today,” says Albee. “He booked a flight to Maui already. I think most guys will head over there to surf Jaws regardless if they run the event or not. I’m hoping that it doesn’t run,” he laughs. “Flying from here you end up so jetlagged.”
“What’s sketchy is there are only a few flights that are reasonable if they call it and they're at least $3500. Financially it sucks because you’d have to make the final to make your money back from the flight if you’re traveling from Portugal. But, that comp gets more eyes than any other Big Wave event on tour; so, if you’re going to try to be a big wave surfer, it's a career move to surf it.”
“It’s funny,” he continues. “If I went and lost first heat I’d lose a big chunk of money. It’d be nice if no one ever lost money to surf Big Wave events. Especially when last place on the CT is $10K while last place on the BWT is $2K. Financially it’s not the best choice if you’re flying from Portugal, but if the waves are pumping, you’re going to fly to Maui and surf Jaws regardless.”
The official call wouldn't be for another day or two - forcing each Big Wave competitor in Portugal to scurry over to Maui in 72 hours or less, get off a plane, and plunge into a wave named after a Steven Speilberg film.