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WSL Big Wave surfers brace for el nino swell impact

WSL Big Wave surfers brace for el nino swell impact

LOS ANGELES, California/USA (Thursday, November 12, 2015) – Big wave surfers from across the globe have been regularly challenging spectacular swells in recent months – producing record entries in the WSL Big Wave Awards – and continue to ready themselves for an unprecedented level of intensity during what is widely anticipated to be among the greatest winters for high surf in history.

Famously termed “too big to fail” by NASA climatologist Bill Patzert, the current El Niño weather phenomenon is among the most powerful ever recorded and is expected to wreak additional havoc around the world with exceptionally violent storms, especially over the coming winter months.

For the surf community this superheating of the North Pacific Ocean is a source of great excitement, concern and preparation.  Throughout the Hawaiian Islands and along the West Coast of North America, similar previous El Niños in 1969/70, 1982/83 and 1997/98 produced the biggest waves scientifically recorded since the sport was introduced to the world.  But while those years produced many swells that were also “too big to surf” the evolution of modern big wave riding techniques and equipment has totally changed the game for participants in the WSL Big Wave Awards.

And while the North Pacific is just getting going, much of the rest of the world has been producing outrageous surf since last May, with the biggest waves and best rides being submitted as entries into the WSL Big Wave Awards. Leading contenders can be viewed at both the event website and Facebook pages.

Known as the Oscars of the high surf elite, the WSL Big Wave Awards honor the greatest achievements of each year in seven categories based on the photographic evidence.  Open to all qualified surfers at any break in the world on any day of the year, this 16th annual edition features a huge increase in prize money for top finishing surfers (and the photographers who document them), more than doubling to $250,000 plus an assortment of TAG Heuer watches for key category winners. The Billabong Ride of the Year category alone will award over $100,000 to the top five surfers and shooters.

Among the top entries to date are rides from the biggest swells ever challenged at Puerto Escondido, Mexico and Western Australia, epic tube rides and wipeouts from Teahupoo, Tahiti and massive XXL waves produced in just the last two weeks at Nazaré, Portugal by surfers including past TAG Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award winners Garrett McNamara of Hawaii and Sebastian Steudtner of Germany.

The WSL Big Wave Awards season runs through March 15, 2016 with the winners being announced at a gala live show to be held in Southern California in late April.  The Big Wave Awards is streamed live at and the WSL app and is otherwise presented on as a one-hour program on The World of X Games on ABC Television in the United States and on major broadcasters throughout the world including Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Portugal and New Zealand.

In addition the Big Wave Awards, the World Surf League’s Big Wave Tour has four events on the schedule for the winter months, each currently awaiting a giant swell suitable for a full day of paddle surfing competition in different locations in the Northern Hemisphere. Big Wave Tour contests currently on standby include:

* The Peahi Challenge at Jaws on the north coast of Maui, Hawaii, USA
* The Oregon Challenge at Nelscott Reef off Lincoln City, Oregon, USA
* The Punta Galea Challenge off the harbor at Getxo, Basque Country (Spain)
* The Todos Santos Challenge at Islas de Todos Santos off Ensenada, BCN, Mexico

For more details on the tour, click on the BIG WAVE TOUR section of the WSL site.


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