Elite Championship Tour Australian Bests Big Wave Field
TODOS SANTOS, Baja California/Mexico (Sunday, January 17, 2016) – Josh Kerr (AUS), a long serving competitor on the elite World Surf League (WSL) Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT), claimed the Todos Santos Challenge today, besting a field of 24 of the world’s top big wave surfers in mammoth 10m to 13 m (30-to-40-foot) waves off the coast of Baja California in Mexico.
The third WSL Big Wave Tour (BWT) event to run in the 2015/2016 season, the Todos Santos Challenge attracted the marquee big wave surfers on the planet to the remote location of “Killers” off of Isla Todos Santos in Baja California. A solid West Northwest (WNW) swell tracking from north of the Hawaiian Islands delivered huge waves that increased in size throughout the morning before climaxing for the six-man Final.
Kerr, who finished 11th on last year’s elite Championship Tour, put his big wave skills to the test today, resulting in one of the biggest wins of his career. Consistently navigating massive set waves from the opening round, Kerr opened the Final strongly and stayed busy throughout. He caught and rode a total of five waves, two more than any of his five opponents, and posted scores of 7.87 and 8.20 to collect his first Big Wave victory.
“I have so much respect for the guys on this tour and those that regularly commit themselves to surfing big waves,” Kerr said. “I have had the biggest smile on my face all day just getting to surf big waves with them. I’ve felt great all day and had complete confidence in my board. I’m really thankful for the opportunity to surf here today.”
Kerr’s fellow finalists represented a “Who’s Who” of the big wave community who are all Todos Santos specialists. Greg Long (USA), Carlos Burle (BRA), Damien Hobgood (USA), Nic Lamb (USA) and Rusty Long (USA) finished second to sixth respectively.
Greg Long, a former Big Wave Tour Champion, was particularly impressive at Todos Santos today, putting his decades of experience at the venue to use by waiting patiently for the biggest and best waves and consistently netting high scores en route to his Runner-Up finish.
“It’s been a great day and I’m really happy that Todos turned on for the world to see,” Long said. “I’ve been coming here since I was 15 and it’s a very special wave for me. Unfortunate that the wind kicked up in the afternoon and I wasn’t able to find a second wave in the Final, but huge congrats to Josh (Kerr) who was charging all day.”
Today’s Runner-Up finish vaulted Long to the No. 1 spot on the latest WSL BWT rankings.
James Taylor (ZAF, Melkbosstrand) was the only South African in the 24-man field following the withdrawal due to a back injury of Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker, the 2013/2014 BWT World Champion and the No. 7 seed for the Todos Santos Challenge.
Taylor made a determined comeback in his Round 1 heat after misreading the takeoff on his first wave and then suffering an horrendous wipeout when he was hung up in the lip of the wave on his second ride. He posted two more scores, a 6.17 and a 3.70, but was ultimately eliminated after placing fifth behind Greg Long, Gudauskas, Hobgood and Billy Kemper (HAW).
Kemper, who entered the Todos Santos Challenge as the WSL BWT rankings’ frontrunner following an incendiary victory at the Pe’ahi Challenge on Maui in December, was also eliminated which saw him drop to 3rd on the BWT rankings.
Makuakai Rothman (HAW), reigning WSL BWT Champion and winner of the Quiksilver Ceremonial in Chile last May, came into the Todos Santos Challenge ranked No. 2 but was ousted in the final moments of his Semifinal bout by Kerr, Rusty Long and Burle.
Two events, the Oregon Challenge at Lincoln City’s Nelscott Reef and the Punta Galea Challenge in the Basque Region, remain on the 2015/2016 WSL BWT season with the potential to run, conditions permitting, before the February 28th close of the window.
Highlights from the Todos Santos Challenge are available at WorldSurfLeague.com
Todos Santos Challenge Final Results:
1 – Josh Kerr (AUS) 24.27
2 – Greg Long (USA) 18.84
3 – Carlos Burle (BRA) 18.33
4 – Damien Hobgood (USA) 17.33
5 – Nic Lamb (USA) 13.51
6 – Rusty Long (USA) 0.20
Todos Santos Challenge Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Josh Kerr (AUS) 25.69, Rusty Long (USA) 25.33, Carlos Burle (BRA) 22.21, Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 21.80, Mark Healey (HAW) 17.40, Nathan Fletcher (USA) 10.77
SF 2: Greg Long (USA) 26.93, Damien Hobgood (USA) 25.77, Nic Lamb (USA) 24.17, Jamie Mitchell (HAW) 22.74, Jamie Sterling (AUS) 22.46, Dane Gudauskas (USA) 17.23
Todos Santos Challenge Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Mark Healey (HAW) 22.49, Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 21.76, Nathan Fletcher (USA) 14.83, Nic Vaughan (USA) 14.10, Miguel Tudela (PER) 10.79, Diego Petrusso (MEX) 3.71
Heat 2: Carlos Burle (BRA) 23.09, Josh Kerr (AUS) 22.83, Rusty Long (USA) 19.89, Will Skudin (USA) 17.73, Anthony Tashnick (USA) 12.89, Trevor Carlson (USA) 10.41
Heat 3: Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 26.87, Jamie Sterling (HAW) 23.36, Nic Lamb (USA) 23.17, Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 20.07, Derek Dunfee (USA) 19.69, Vincente Yazbeck (MEX) 12.04
Heat 4: Greg Long (USA) 25.74, Dane Gudauskas (USA) 22.67, Damien Hobgood (USA) 21.94, Billy Kemper (HAW) 20.33, James Taylor (ZAF) 16.04, Coco Nogales (MEX) 14.97
2015/2016 WSL BWT Top 5 (after Todos Santos Challenge):
1. Greg Long (USA) 21,266 pts
2. Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 16,994 pts
3. Billy Kemper (HAW) 16,714 pts
4. Nic Lamb (USA) 16,594 pts
5. Josh Kerr (AUS) 13,589 pts
Note: High resolution images are available on request to Media Outlets
About the World Surf League
The mission of the WSL is simple: to inspire positive change for surfing, our fans and the environment. Formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), the WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global products across the Samsung Galaxy men’s and women’s Championship Tours, Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels; it strives to put the world’s best surfers on the world’s best waves.
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