Slabs, giant waves and the perfection of surfing...
We stepped into 2017, only 11 days ago, so we're still making the balance about what happened in 2016. Today, we are focused in what we consider being the most spectacular events in 2016.
Almost instantly, names like Waimea Bay, Mentawai, Cloudbreak, Padang Padang, Jaws and, the dangerous North Beach.
Curious is the fact that only one event (Fiji) belongs to the World Championship Tour, which shows that the WSL world circuit, despite being more and more captivated, actually had a deficit in the quality of the waves. The counterpoint is made by the Big Wave Tour that presents two tests: Peahi Challenge and Nazaré Challenge.
Without any specific order, here are the 7 events that everybody won't lose for nothing this year:
In November, Hawaiian Billy Kemper won this event for the second year in 10-meter waves. In a luxury finale, Kemper took on the American Greg Long and South African Grant "Twiggy" Baker whom got second and third places in Jaws, the iconic Hawaiian spot on the island of Maui. The Pe'ahi Challenge was also marked by having held the first ever big wave women's competition. Paige Alms, also from Hawaii, dominated completely the 60-minute final, leaving France's Justine Dupont and Australian Felicity Palmateer in second and third places.
RIP CURL CUP PADANG PADANG
We were on the 2nd of August when the Rip Curl Cup in Padang Padang, Bali took place. The event was on the WSL calendar as a special event and it is definitely not the kind of event we see every day. There is a reason for surfers such as Mason Ho, Bruce Irons, Damien Hobgood and Clay Marzo, who are athletes and who really stand out in tubular waves, rejoice with the invitation for a happening of these characteristics. Padang Padang, the fantastic pearl of the Bukit peninsula, has returned to its standard and has served some of the best local and international surfers with classic and perfect waves. The great winner, for the second time, was the Indonesian Mega Semadhi.
RED BULL CAPE FEAR
The 2016 edition of the Red Bull Cape Fear, an event designed by the Australian Mark Mathews, took place in June. The wave / Australian slab of Ours (or Cape Fear) in Cape Solander did not disappoint and for two days it brought a lot of action and of course INSANITY. Russell Bierke, a young Australian who was only 18 years old, was not intimidated by the monstrous waves and ended up getting the better place of the competition in 12-foot waves. WSL did not sanction the event and therefore only featured Australian riders (Ryan Hipwood, James Adams and Koby Abberton, among others). Absolutely epic...
In April, Australian Chris Zaffis took the best in the Mentawai Pro presented by Rip Curl, the first QS1000 in history to take place on the famous waves of Lance's Right. In the final, Zaffis beat the local legend, Dede Suryana, in amazing waves from 4 to 6 feet. The Aussie recorded 19.25 points (in 20 possible) in the last heat, much thanks to a wave of 9.55 points that found two minutes of sounding the horn. The locals, the organization and WSL itself said that this was surely one of the best tests ever and that it will stay to memory. The champion's words at the awards ceremony were very enlightening: "I think I've never surfed such good waves in my life."
Gabriel Medina defeated Matt Wilkinson in the final of Fiji Pro, the fifth stage of the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour, happened in waves of two to three meters (heavy) on June 17. After a rather slow start, Cloudbreak showed its full potential from round 3 to the end. The high point of the event was surely the heat that Taj Burrow opposed to John John Florence in round 3, with both surfers registering waves of 8 and 9 points, one behind the other (JJF = 18.76; TB = 18.60). Most likely, Taj's best heat on the Tour over his 18-year career ... and soon at the farewell event.
QUIKSILVER IN MEMORY OF EDDIE AIKAU
With the calm and dexterity of a true Hawaiian waterman, John John Florence took the best in the 31st edition of Quiksilver in memory of Eddie Aikau. With this victory, in waves up to 60 feet, the Hawaiian kid (now also world champion) has brought a new style of surfing.
When nobody believed that it could still take place in 2016, Nazaré Challenge was "ON". The 20th of December was historic, the first ever Portuguese event of the Big Wave Tour of the World Surf League. It was a insane journey, We can cal it one of the most dangerous events of big waves, ever made. In the end, it was the Australian Jamie Mitchell, 39, who dominated and lifted the winning glass. Let's see if this 2017 the Big Wave Surfers want to step in again in the Nazaré Challenge.