Stab Magazine | Your Favorite Wave To Hate Will (Probably) Run Its BWT Event This Friday

Your Favorite Wave To Hate Will (Probably) Run Its BWT Event This Friday

Although there’s a bigger swell with similar conditions a few days behind… Is the WSL scared of repeating the hospitalizations of 2016? 

news // Nov 14, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Do you love to hate Portugal’s Praia do Norte, AKA Nazaré, whose swinging peaks tease the viewer with feathering lips that never seem to break?

This wedging haven, which holds all worldly records for the biggest waves surfed by males, females, etc., will have its annual big wave event this coming Friday, if conditions remain positive. 

From the WSL:

“We anticipate a great swell hitting Nazaré later this week,” said Mike Parsons, WSL Big Wave Tour Commissioner. “A WNW swell is moving toward the region and expected to hit Praia do Norte with ideal winds on Friday, November 16. We have issued a Yellow Alert to potentially run on Friday. We are closely monitoring the conditions, and if all continues to align, we will go Green 48 hours prior.” 

Parsons and the WSL Big Wave team will continue to carefully track the swell and conditions with the aim of issuing a ‘Green Alert’ 48 hours ahead of the event start.

Screen Shot 2018 11 13 at 12.22.13 PM

Purple blobs make the world go ’round.

While that swell might not appear exceptionally massive, its angle is favorable and winds are predicted to be light, which is why the WSL feels confident in (potentially) running the event. 

Worth noting is the absolutely psycho swell following Friday’s event, which according to the model below, should be about 48x the size of the projected competition swell. 

And, as far as we can tell, the winds look favorable on Sunday too. 

Screen Shot 2018 11 13 at 12.22.32 PM

Is the Big Wave Tour scared of actually big waves?

Last year, due to unrelenting gusts on the preferred day of competition, the Nazaré Challenge concluded in slightly overhead shorepound. Lucas Chumbo won riding a 10’0 that should have been a 6’6. He did a floater. 

Could we be fated for more of the same in 2018?

Skip to 1:22

According to Surfline, forecast partner of the WSL:

A developing storm near Greenland is expected to produce a strong WNW swell for Friday. Confidence is medium to high for a swell to provide good surf throughout the day. We expect to see wave face size in the 20-30’ range through the day on Friday, with the very largest sets of the morning up to 35’. 

While this isn’t a giant swell, especially by Nazare standards, local wind and conditions look about as good as it gets on Friday: light+ offshore ESE wind through the morning, trending more SE (still offshore) for the early afternoon hours, generally below 10 knots. Furthermore, the two previous days (Wednesday-Thursday) are also expected to see light offshore wind and small swell, which should mean conditions are extra clean on Friday.

These points are potentially puzzling, depending on how you look at big wave surfing. 


Twiggy, who after the hospital-bound event in 2016, said he’d never compete at Nazaré if such conditions persisted, busted out the groveler last year. Is there a happy medium? Photo: Aitor Molina

If you’re going to build a tour upon the premise of surfers riding big waves, then big waves should be the number one priority. A smooth ocean surface is obviously important too – especially at a place like Nazaré – but according to our models Saturday and Sunday also appear offshore, albeit a bit more briskly.

The WSL should consider that no one watching the event, and probably no one surfing in the event, wants what happened in 2017 to take place again this year. 

Although it’s worth noting that in 2016, the Nazaré Challenge sent multiple competitors to the hospital. It was enough to make South Africa’s big wave doyen, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, state, “Nazaré as a wave is a phenom, as challenging and beautiful as any big wave I’ve surfed but the dangers involved seem to outweigh the rewards. Those 20 minutes during each heat, on the back of a ski, holding on with all your strength while jumping 10 foot foamies, were some of the most terrifying experiences of my life and something I can’t see myself repeating.”

So, is it time for the WSL to make big waves BIG again? Or is the following swell too BIG to run a BIG WAVE event in? 

2018/2019 Nazaré Challenge Invitees:
Billy Kemper, Kai Lenny, Ian Walsh, Makuakai Rothman, Lucas Chianca, Jamie Mitchell, Tom Lowe, Alex Botelho, Greg Long, Natxo Gonzalez, Will Skudin, Grant Baker, Nathan Florence, Jojo Roper, Russell Bierke, João De Macedo, Rodrigo Koxa, Antonio Silva, Hugo Vau, Nic Von Rupp, João Guedes, Three WSL BWT Invitees TBD by WSL BWT Commissioner
Alternates: Ryan Hipwood, Andrew Cotton, Tom Butler, Axi Muniain


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