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Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker Advances to Semi-Finals of WSL Big Wave Event in Mexico

June 25th, 2016 No comments
Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker charges an unruly 10 metre wave on his way to the semifinals of the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico on Friday Photo: WSL / Hinkle

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker charges an unruly 10 metre wave on his way to the semifinals of the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico on Friday Photo: WSL / Hinkle

– Long, Rothman, Skudin & Mitchell Drop Massive Scores
– Swell Building for Dramatic Finish on Saturday
– Watch Highlights from Puerto Escondido Challenge at WorldSurfLeague.Com

PUERTO ESCONDIDO, Oaxaca/Mexico (Friday, June 24, 2016) – South Africa’s Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker started his campaign for the 2016/17 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) title with a solid second place finish in his Round 1 heat of the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico on Friday.

Held in monstrous 10 metre (30-foot-plus) unruly waves and challenging beach break conditions, the 2013 BWT champion from Durban showcased his big wave skills, finding several huge hollow tubes, and demonstrating his commitment and bravado by taking several bone-crushing wipe-outs.

Will Skudin (USA) claimed the heat win with a 22.07 heat total over Baker by only 0.74 points. Rogercin Ramirez (MEX), event wildcard and local favorite, opened Heat 2 with a huge barrel, pulling off a technical exit to earn an authoritative 9.00, which brought the large hometown crowd to their feet.

Ramirez held the lead against the field, but with 15 fifteen minutes left in the 75 minute heat, Skudin and Baker fought back to secure the first and second positions. Skudin, Baker and Ramirez advanced to the Semifinals while BWT heavyweights Billy Kemper (HAW) and Damien Hobgood (USA), along with local wildcard Coco Nogales (MEX) were knocked out of the competition.

“It was hard to find those corners out there,” Skudin said. “It was big and heavy, and I just put my head down and kept on going. I was hoping that eventually I’d lock one down and make a good barrel. Unfortunately, I didn’t make a really good barrel, but I made it through the heat.”

Reigning BWT Champion Greg Long (USA) led the field with back-to-back solid scores in Round 1 Heat 1 and was the first surfer to secure his place in the Semifinals. Long set the pace for the opening heat of the event by picking off multiple right-hand barrels to earn a 20.01 heat score (out of a possible 30).

Albee Layer (HAW) secured a 12.83 heat score and the second position. Kai Lenny (HAW) and Gabriel Villaran (PER) battled for third place, but it was Lenny who showcased full commitment as he pulled into a deep barrel and edged out Villaran by only 3.10 points.

“The waves are really good right now and there are a lot of corners if you know where to sit,” Long said. “I actually deliberately rode a much bigger board than I ever do out here. There is a lot more volume so I could cover the ground that I needed to. It is something new for me, but in a heat if you can’t catch a wave, nothing else matters. My strategy was to keep moving around wherever it was clean and I locked in four waves.”

2014/15 BWT Champion Makuakai Rothman (HAW) charged through Heat 3, with Pedro Calado (BRA) and BWT veteran Carlos Burle (BRA) close behind. Rothman, last year’s BWT runner-up, locked in a near-perfect 9.50 and a solid 7.80 back-up score. Calado fired with an excellent 9.07 and 6.93 to earn the second position. With only 0.29 points between Burle and event wildcard Angelo Lozano (MEX), Burle’s 23.56 heat total was enough to advance to the Semifinals.

“This is my second time to Mexico and the waves are really fun,” said Rothman. “I was just in the right place at the right time. I am not thinking about the end result. I am just thinking about my first wave tomorrow morning and hopefully I am in the right spot. The local boys charge.”

Jamie Mitchell (AUS) netted the highest single-wave score of Round 1, a perfect 10.00, with an extremely technical barrel ride in Heat 4. Mitchell’s final heat tally, a near-perfect 29.03, was the highest of the day, earning him the heat win and a place in the Semifinals. The bout also saw high-scoring rides from local wildcard Jimel Corzo (MEX) and Rusty Long (USA), who will also progressed to the Semifinals.

“I think we were all worried about the fourth heat with the wind coming up, but I think we scored the best conditions of the day,” Mitchell said. “The tide was dropping, the winds stayed glassy and the swell was peaking. I found an early right hander and nearly made it out, which put me into a good rhythm. I found that left and didn’t think I was going to make it, but somehow I pulled out of that. It was an historic day. Incredible surf and incredible barrels.”

Event officials will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. local time (about 3pm SA time) for a possible 7:30 a.m. start.

For more information, log onto WorldSurfLeague.com where the Puerto Escondido Challenge will be webcast LIVE.

The event is also being carried by the WSL’s LIVE broadcast partners Fox Sports Australia, CBS Sports in the United States, ESPN Brasil, Globosat, Edgesport, Sky NZ, Sport TV, Canal + Deportes, Channel Nine, MCS, Starhub, and Oceanic Time Warner Cable 250 & 1250 in Hawaii.

Puerto Escondido Challenge Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Greg Long (USA) 20.01, Albee Layer (HAW) 12.83, Kai Lenny (HAW) 12.66, Gabriel Villaran (PER) 9.56, Jose Ramirez (MEX) 8.77, Koa Rothman (HAW) 6.46
Heat 2: Will Skudin (USA) 22.07, Grant Baker (ZAF) 21.33, Rogercin Ramirez (MEX) 20.73, Billy Kemper (HAW) 18.87, Damien Hobgood (USA) 18.23, Coco Nogales (MEX) 11.01
Heat 3: Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 26.80, Pedro Calado (BRA) 25.07, Carlos Burle (BRA) 23.56, Angelo Lozano (MEX) 23.27, Trevor Carlson (HAW) 16.93, Tom Lowe (GRB) 12.74
Heat 4: Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 29.03, Jimel Corzo (MEX) 24.43, Rusty Long (USA) 23.84, Cristian Merello (CHL) 21.34, Nic Lamb (USA) 14.13, Oscar Moncada (MEX) 7.00

Puerto Escondido Challenge Semifinal Match-Ups:
Semifinal 1: Greg Long (USA), Albee Layer (HAW), Kai Lenny (HAW), Will Skudin (USA), Grant Baker (ZAF), Rogercin Ramirez (MEX)
Semifinal 2: Makuakai Rothman (HAW), Pedro Calado (BRA), Carlos Burle (BRA), Jamie Mitchell (AUS), Jimel Corzo (MEX), Rusty Long (USA)

2016/2017 WSL Big Wave Tour Schedule:
Southern Hemisphere: April 27 – August 31, 2016
Puerto Escondido Challenge: Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Quiksilver Punta de Lobos Challenge: Punta de Lobos, Chile
Billabong Pico Alto Challenge: Pico Alto, Peru
Northern Hemisphere: October 15, 2016 – February 28, 2017
Pe’ahi Challenge: Haiku, Hawaii
Todos Santos Challenge: Todos Santos, Mexico
Nazaré Challenge: Nazaré, Portugal

ENDS

NB : High resolution images are available for media outlets

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the 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.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 082 699 4493
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Compiled & Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

#labcomm

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker Heads to Hawaii for Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau

February 9th, 2016 No comments
Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker, seen here at Jaws, is on his way to Hawaii to compete in the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave event at Waimea Bay on Wednesday  Image: Nick Ricca

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker, seen here at Jaws, is on his way to Hawaii to compete in the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave event at Waimea Bay on Wednesday  Image: Nick Ricca

Prestigious Big Wave Event at Waimea Bay Draws World’s Best Big Wave Surfers

WAIMEA BAY, Oahu/Hawaii (Monday, February 8, 2016) – The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, a World Surf League Specialty Event, has been called ON for Wednesday, February 10 at the world-renowned Waimea Bay. This will be the ninth time this prestigious event has run in its storied, 31-year history.

The best big wave surfers will take on the 20-foot-plus (Hawaiian) swell as organisers anticipate a solid day of surf that will meet the event’s strict wave face height requirement of 40 feet, with favourable light winds in the morning, turning light trades by afternoon.

Durban’s Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker is jetting to Hawaii after receiving the call up on Sunday. An invitee for the past eight years, he is the only South African to have competed in the event (2009) and is again the only one from this country in the elite 28 man invitational field this year.

The 42 year-old who recently became a father for the first time, returned to the country three weeks ago to rehabilitate a nagging back injury after charging the massive El Nino swells in California, Mexico and Hawaii during December and January where he competed in the Big Wave Tour event at Jaws on the island of Maui.

However, the lure of joining the world’s best exponents in the most prestigious big wave event on the planet was strong enough for Baker to pack his bags and boards and head back halfway around the world to compete at Waimea Bay.

“It has taken us six years to pull the trigger, but this is the first swell we have seen that is truly lining up as an Eddie swell,” said Event Director Glen Moncata.

Moncata and the organizing team continue to confer with event patriarch George Downing, who has made the call on every event since its inception.

“As George has famously said, ‘The Bay Calls the Day’ and that will be Wednesday,” added Moncata.

The Eddie will be contested by 28 invitees, including BWT current rankings’ leader and 2009 Eddie winner Greg Long (USA); Clyde Aikau (HAW), Eddie’s brother and winner of the second Eddie event; and 11-time World Champion and 2001/2002 Eddie winner Kelly Slater (USA).

Baker will be up against Slater and experienced Hawaiian Dave Wassel in both his heats, along with four other competitors.

The format sees everyone in the field compete twice with their best four rides from the two heats totalled to determine the winner. This makes the event difficult to run as it is imperative that the wave faces remain in the13 metre plus range throughout the day so competitors in all the heats, from the first to the last, have an equal opportunity to impress the judges.

This WSL Specialty Big-Wave event is named for native Hawaiian, champion big wave surfer and life-saving Waimea Bay lifeguard, Eddie Aikau. The event honours Aikau’s legendary courage.

The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the WSL app starting at approximately 8pm South African time. The event will be carried by our LIVE broadcast partners Fox Sports Australia, CNS Sports in the United States, ESPN Brazil, Globosat, Edgesport, Sky NZ, Sport TV, Canal + Deportes, Channel Nine, MCS, and Starhub.

The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Heat Draw:

Round 1/Heat 1
Shane Dorian (HAW)
Kohl Christensen (HAW)
Greg Long (USA)
Ramon Navarro (CHL)
Sunny Garcia (HAW)
Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS)
Jamie Mitchell (AUS)

Round 1/Heat 2
Kelly Slater (USA)
David Wassel (HAW)
Grant Baker (ZAF)
Reef McIntosh (HAW)
Jamie O’Brien (HAW)
Aaron Gold (HAW)
Tom Carroll (AUS)

Round 1/Heat 3
John John Florence (HAW)
Mark Healey (HAW)
Clyde Aikau (HAW)
Nathan Fletcher (USA)
Noah Johnson (HAW)
Peter Mel (USA)
Takayuki Wakita (JPN)

Round 1/Heat 4
Bruce Irons (HAW)
Makua Rothman (HAW)
Ian Walsh (HAW)
Albee Layer (HAW)
Kala Alexander (HAW)
Garrett McNamara (HAW)
Jeremy Flores (FRA)

Round 2/Heat 1
Shane Dorian (HAW)
Kohl Christensen (HAW)
Greg Long (USA)
Reef McIntosh (HAW)
Jamie O’Brien (HAW)
Aaron Gold (HAW)
Tom Carroll (AUS)

Round 2/Heat 2
Kelly Slater (USA)
David Wassel (HAW)
Grant Baker (ZAF)
Ramon Navarro (CHL)
Sunny Garcia (HAW)
Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS)
Jamie Mitchell (AUS)

Round 2/Heat 3
John John Florence (HAW)
Mark Healey (HAW)
Clyde Aikau (HAW)
Albee Layer (HAW)
Kala Alexander (HAW)
Garrett McNamara (HAW)
Jeremy Flores (FRA)

Round 2/Heat 4
Bruce Irons (HAW)
Makua Rothman (HAW)
Ian Walsh (HAW)
Nathan Fletcher (USA)
Noah Johnson (HAW)
Peter Mel (USA)
Takayuki Wakita (JPN)

ENDS

Note: High resolution images will be available after the event 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.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL has energized an already-passionate global fan base with millions around the world tuning-in to see the likes of Kelly Slater, Filipe Toledo, Gabriel Medina, Makua Rothman, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Greg Long, Stephanie Gilmore, John John Florence, Carissa Moore and others do battle in the most dynamic field of play in all of sports. For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Compiled & Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

#labcomm

Josh Kerr Claims Todos Santos Challenge in Massive Surf

January 18th, 2016 No comments
Australian Josh Kerr en route to winning the Todos Santos Challenge   Image: WSL / Hallman

Australian Josh Kerr en route to winning the Todos Santos Challenge   Image: WSL / Hallman

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

ENDS

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.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL has energized an already-passionate global fan base with millions around the world tuning-in to see the likes of Kelly Slater, Filipe Toledo, Gabriel Medina, Makua Rothman, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Greg Long, Stephanie Gilmore, John John Florence, Carissa Moore and others do battle in the most dynamic field of play in all of sports. For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Compiled & Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

#labcomm

WSL Green Alert: Todos Santos Challenge Called On For Sunday

January 15th, 2016 No comments
WSL BWT competitor Greg Long (USA) warming up at Todos Santos on Tuesday. Long will be one of 24 competitors vying for the Todos Santos Challenge title on Sunday  Image: WSL / Sharp

WSL BWT competitor Greg Long (USA) warming up at Todos Santos on Tuesday. Long will be one of 24 competitors vying for the Todos Santos Challenge title on Sunday  Image: WSL / Sharp

World’s Best Big Wave Surfers to Tackle Baja California’s Big Wave Gem

The World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) has placed the Todos Santos Challenge in Baja California on Green Alert to commence on Sunday, January 17, 2016 with a projected 30-foot-plus swell heading towards the region.

“The swell we’ve been tracking from North of Hawaii has intensified and we’ve called the Todos Santos Challenge ON for a Sunday start,” said Peter Mel, WSL Big Wave Commissioner. “We’re looking at 30-foot-plus waves projected for the day with favourable winds and tides.”

The Todos Santos Challenge will be contested by 24 men, led by current rankings’ leader Billy Kemper (HAW) and reigning BWT Champion Makuakai Rothman (HAW).

South African Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker, who ended the 2014 / 2015 season ranked No. 7 on the BWT, is one of the top 10 seeds, while compatriot James Taylor (Melkbosstrand) is one of two alternates in the Video Invitee category.

“Having ran events in Chile and Maui so far, the 2015/2016 Big Wave Tour has already produced exceptional moments,” continued Mel. “Makuakai Rothman was dominant at Punta de Lobos and Maui’s Billy Kemper wowed everyone at Pe’ahi. We’re looking forward to more fireworks come Sunday in Mexico.”

Surfline, official forecasters for the 2015/2016 WSL BWT season are calling for:

We have been closely monitoring a hurricane force low to the north of Hawaii over the past 24 hours as it will set up an XXL swell for Todos Santos through the day on Sunday. Thus far we have observed satellite verified wind of 50-75 knots and seas in excess of 50 feet in this storm and it still has plenty of life left in the next 12-24 hours. At this point we expect to see strong, long period west-northwest swell build through the day on Sunday, with the largest waves in the afternoon.

The better set waves, while likely lully, will be in the 30-40’ range on the face with some even larger max sets possible. Local wind and weather looks favorable with high pressure over the region: light and variable flow in the morning trending to light+ onshore NW in the afternoon.

The Todos Santos Challenge will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com

Todos Santos Challenge Invite List:

WSL Big Wave Tour Top Ten Seeds
Makuakai Rothman (HAW)
Gabriel Villaran (PER)
Nic Lamb (USA)
Anthony Tashnick (USA)
Greg Long (USA)
Nathan Fletcher (USA)
Grant Baker (ZAF)
Natxo Gonzales (EUK)
Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Carlos Burle (BRA)

Injury Wildcard
Alex Gray (USA)

Video Invitees
Trevor Sven Carlson (USA)
Mark Mathews (AUS)

Event Invitees
Derek Dunfee (USA)
Rusty Long (USA)
Nic Vaughan (USA)
Coco Nogales (MEX)
Diego Pertusso (MEX)
Vincente Yazbeck (MEX)

BWT Invitees
Shane Dorian (HAW)
Mark Healey (HAW)
Josh Kerr (AUS)
Kelly Slater (USA)
Jamie Mitchell (AUS)

Video Invitee Alternates
James Taylor (ZAF)
Jamie Sterling (HAW)

Event Invitee Alternates
Chapman Murphey (USA)
Dane Gudauskas (USA)
Tanner Gudauskas (USA)

BWT Invitee Alternates
Damien Hobgood (USA)
Will Skudin (USA)
Diego Medina (CHL)

ENDS

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.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL has energized an already-passionate global fan base with millions around the world tuning-in to see the likes of Kelly Slater, Filipe Toledo, Gabriel Medina, Makua Rothman, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Greg Long, Stephanie Gilmore, John John Florence, Carissa Moore and others do battle in the most dynamic field of play in all of sports. For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Compiled & Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

#labcomm

Fifth place for Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker at Quiksilver Ceremonial Big Wave Invitational in Chile

May 2nd, 2015 No comments
Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker (Durban) in action during his semi-final victory in the Quiksilver Ceremonial Big Wave Invitational in Chile on Friday  Photo: WSL / Azocar

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker (Durban) in action during his semi-final victory in the Quiksilver Ceremonial Big Wave Invitational in Chile on Friday  Photo: WSL / Azocar

Durbanite Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker placed fifth in the Quiksilver Ceremonial Big Wave Invitational which was won by Makuakai Rothman (HAW) in huge 10 – 13 metre (30 – 40 foot) waves at Punta De Lobos in Peru on Friday.

The 24-man field was given the green light for the event to run on Thursday but the predicted swell did not materialise until late in the day. Organisers eventually got the event underway in 5 to 8 metre waves at 3pm and completed all four Round 1 heats before dark.

Baker, the 2013 World Big Wave Champion, was in the first heat of the day and won the six-man clash convincingly. He recorded scores of 8.83 and 8.33 (both out of 10) on his two counting rides for a heat total of 25.99 points (out of 30) as the highest single score for each competitor is doubled in value.

Capetonian Frank Solomon, who had only arrived at the contest site at 4am that morning after his surfboards were lost in transit, just failed to advance to the semis when he finished in fourth place behind Baker, local and defending event champion Marcos Monteiro (CHL) and Koa Rothman (HAW).

The swell filled in overnight and the semi-finalists were greeted by enormous walls of water peeling down the left-breaking point at first light on Friday. Baker again dominated his encounter, posting rides of 8.83 and 6.57 to finish five points ahead of eventual event runner-up Cristian Merello (CHL) and eight ahead of event winner Rothman.

In the second semi, local standout Ramon Navarro rode what was considered the biggest wave of the day, a massive 15 metre mountain of water that earned the Chilean a near perfect score of 9.70.

The final belonged to Rothman who rode a total of six waves including a pair of eight pointers. Baker was only in position to ride two waves and finished behind Merello, Navarro and American Nic Lamb. Australian Mark Mathews was sixth.

The Quiksilver Ceremonial Big Wave Invitational was the first event on the 2015 / 2016 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT). Two more events in Peru and Mexico are scheduled for the period May 15 to October 31.

Those are followed by four events in Oregon, Baja California, Maui and the Basque country during the period October 15 to February 28, 2016 before the 2015/16 world champion big wave surfer will be crowned.

See all the results plus photos and video footage from the Punta De Lobos event at http://bit.ly/1OOK0g5

Results of the Quiksilver Ceremonial Big Wave Invitational
FINAL
1. Makuakai Rothman HAW 24.29
2. Cristian Merello CHL 23.17
3. Ramon Navarro CHL 22.31
4. Nic Lamb USA 20.74
5. Grant Baker ZAF 19.79
6. Mark Mathews AUS 17.97

Semifinals (Top 3 to final)
SF1: 1. Grant Baker ZAF 24.23, 2. Cristian Merello CHL 19.77,3. Makuakai Rothman HAW 16.67,4. Koa Rothman HAW 16.49,5. Marcos Monteiro BRA 15.19, 6. Mark Healey HAW 14.24
SF2: 1. Ramon Navarro CHL 26.30,2. Mark Mathews AUS 25.93, 3. Nic Lamb USA 25.34, 4. Damien Hobgood USA 24.49, 5. Diego Medina CHL 19.77, 6. Carlos Burle BRA 6.37

Round 1 (Top 3 to semi-finals)
H1: 1. Grant Baker (ZAF) 25.99pts, 2. Marcos Monteiro (BRA) 25.21pts, 3. Koa Rothman (HAW) 25.00pts, 4. Frank Solomon (ZAF) 19.54pts, 5. Federico Mekis (CHL) 15.57pts, 6. Gabriel Villaran (PER) 8.34pts
H2: 1. Mark Healey (HAW) 26.83pts, 2. Cristian Merello (CHL) 24.47pts, 3. Makua Rothman (HAW) 24.23pts, 4. Renialdo Ibarra (CHL) 21.40pts, 5. Nathan Fletcher (USA) 18.87pts, 6. Miguel Tudela (PER) 10.27pts
H3: 1. Nic Lamb (USA) 27.49pts, 2. Mark Mathews (AUS) 24.00pts, 3. Ramon Navarro , CHL) 22.37pts, 4. Fernando Zegers (CHL) 20.67pts, 5. Alex Gray (USA) 20.16pts, 6. Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 13.06pts
H4: 1. Diego Medina (CHL) 23.31pts, 2. Carlos Burle (BRA) 20.21pts, 3. Damien Hobgood (USA) 19.63pts, 4. Josh Kerr (USA) 17.97pts, 5. Jamie Sterling (HAW) 12.34pts, 6. Anthony Tashnick (USA) 3.66pts

2015/16 WSL Big Wave Tour Rankings
1. Makuakai Rothman HAW 12,500
2. Cristian Merello CHL 10,416
3. Ramon Navarro CHL 8,680
4. Nic Lamb USA 7,234
5. Grant Baker ZAF 6,029
6. Mark Mathews AUS 5,024
=13. Frank Solomon ZAF 1,089

ENDS

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Cape Town excluded as WSL announces 2015 / 2016 Big Wave Tour schedule

April 8th, 2015 No comments
Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker (Durban) in action at Dungeons in Cape Town in 2009  Image: Kimi Stewart / BillabongXXL.com

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker (Durban) in action at Dungeons in Cape Town in 2009  Image: Kimi Stewart / BillabongXXL.com

The World Surf League (WSL) has announced the 2015 / 2016 Big Wave Tour (BWT) schedule that includes two new venues in Mexico and Oregon in the USA but excludes Cape Town, taking the total number of stops that will determine the WSL Big Wave Surfing Champion to seven.

Dungeons, the open ocean reef near Hout Bay that has produced the biggest rideable waves on the African continent, has been removed from the schedule after the Cape Big Wave Trust (CBWT), a group that claims to include surfers from all over South Africa who regularly ride big waves in Cape Town, decided that they did not want the fully funded event to be run in at the break.

After fully supporting the WSL’s offer of the multi million Rand event on last year’s schedule, which did not run due to a lack of suitably large waves, the CBWT members were upset by reports that the number of spots allocated for local surfers would be reduced from six to four this year. This, added to their claim that the BWT did not have a clearly defined criteria for local surfers to qualify to compete in events elsewhere, saw the local group vote to withdraw the Dungeons Challenge from the tour until there was greater clarity on how the BWT system operates.

“A multi million Rand competition may be of benefit to a surfing audience, but given that we surf there (Dungeons) on average only about 5 times a year it can take away the very special experience from the very people that use the wave for their enjoyment,” said CBWT spokesman Barry Futter. “For us to support this we need to see greater clarity on exactly how the BWT system works. There needs to be real opportunity and benefit for local surfers to grow.”

The BWT officials amended their offer to include six spots for locals plus a wildcard for this year’s Dungeons Challenge, which along with the inclusion of 2013/14 BWT Champion Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker from Durban, who qualifies for all the events on the schedule due to his current No. 8 ranking, would have brought the South African contingent in the event to eight, or a third of the 24 man field.

According to the CBWT, communications between WSL BWT Vice President Gary Linden, Contest Director Craig Jarvis and themselves lacked clarity and at their AGM the members voted unanimously that they did do not want a contest at Dungeons at this point.

The decision provoked a digital media furor with many in the SA surfing community unhappy with the outcome, questioning both the CBWT’s motivation and its authority to make the decision. Baker, who would have stood to benefit the most from having a BWT event at Dungeons, which is virtually his home break, diplomatically voted and expressed his solidarity with the locals.

But several SA based big wave luminaries were less accommodating with the likes of legendary Cape Town surfer and Dungeons pioneer Jonathan Paarman and Durban based watermen Jason Ribbink and former Dungeons champion John Whittle criticizing the CBWT decision as short-sighted, selfish and stunting the development of the emerging local big wave chargers by denying them the opportunity to meet, mingle and learn from the world’s best big wave exponents in their home surf without having to incur prohibitive international travel costs.

One silver lining to the BWT announcement was the inclusion of Cape Town big wave charger James Taylor as one of the six qualifiers from last year’s #ProveIt Challenge. Taylor is joined by Trevor Carlson (HAW), Nick Vaughan (USA), Mark Mathews (AUS), Jamie Sterling (HAW) and Derek Dunfee (USA) with two of the qualifiers gaining entry at each stop on the tour.

The 2015 / 2016 Big Wave Tour (BWT) will showcase the world’s premiere big wave surfers, the planet’s most harrowing venues and an unparalleled display of adventure, competitive drama and athleticism, all accessible at WorldSurfLeague.com.

Featuring fields of 24 of the best big wave surfers in the world, the WSL BWT events cover seven different potential venues across three continents all anticipating waves in excess of 25-feet to run. With a global forecasting partner in Surfline, event organizers have allocated the following windows for the various events, each only requiring one day of extraordinary surf to run:

Quiksilver Ceremonial: Punta de Lobos: Chile (April 15, 2015 – August 31, 2015)
Billabong Pico Alto: Pico Alto: Peru (May 15, 2015 – August 31, 2015)
Puerto Escondido Challenge: Puerto Escondido, Mexico (May 15, 2015 – August 31, 2015)
Oregon Challenge: Lincoln City, Oregon (October 15, 2015 – February 28, 2016)
Punta Galea Challenge: Punta Galea, Basque Country Spain (October 15, 2015 – February 28, 2016)
Pea’hi Challenge: Haiku, Hawaii (October 15, 2015 – February 28, 2016)
Todos Santos Challenge: Todos Santos, Mexico (November 15, 2015 – March 31, 2016)

“The Big Wave Tour is entering into its second full year under the WSL banner and the enhancements made to this upcoming season are designed with one goal in mind – run as many events as possible in the largest surf on offer,” Peter Mel, former BWT Champion and WSL BWT Commissioner, said. “The schedule is designed with this in mind and we’re excited about the addition of Puerto Escondido and Lincoln City as full-fledged members of the 2015 / 2016 BWT season. It’s never been a more exciting time for big wave surfing.”

The acquisition of the BWT by the WSL will allow for top WSL surfers such as 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), three-time World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), Hawaiian phenom John John Florence (HAW), amongst others to potentially join respected BWT surfers like Greg Long (USA), Grant Baker (ZAF), Gabriel Villaran (PER), Nic Lamb (USA) and Makua Rothman (HAW) in competition with waves in the 25-foot-and-above range.

The BWT complements the WSL properties of the men’s and women’s Championship Tours, the Qualifying Series, Longboard and Junior Championships as well as the Big Wave Awards on May 1.

ENDS

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL) organizes the annual tour of professional surf competitions and broadcasts each event live at WorldSurfLeague.com where you can experience the athleticism, drama and adventure of competitive surfing — anywhere and anytime it’s on. The WSL sanctions and operates the following tours: the Junior Tour, Longboard Tour, the Qualifying Series (QS), the Big Wave Tour and the crown jewel of the sport, the WSL Championship Tour (CT) which determines the sport’s undisputed world champions. The organization is headquartered in Santa Monica, California with Commercial Offices in New York. The offices are supported by regional centers in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, North America and South America.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

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