World Surf League to Run First-Ever Big-Wave Nazaré Tow Challenge This Tuesday

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Francisco Porcella, Nazare.Photo: Courtesy of Fernandez/SURFER Magazine

Last August the WSL announced the Big Wave World “Tour” was to be restructured, if you will. No World Champ. No Mavericks event. No paddling at Nazaré. Instead, the WSL unveiled a re-tooled “Big Wave Platform,” which would feature the Jaws Big Wave World Championships at Pe’ahi, the Nazaré Tow Challenge and the Big Wave Awards. (They also announced a “Strike missions” series but we’ve yet to see what that entails.)

In December, Billy Kemper won the Jaws World Championships with a devastating performance. From an outsider’s perspective, it still unfolded the same as it ever has: in pumping 25-foot tubes at Pe’ahi, with Kemper dominating the day.

Saturday, we got news that the Nazaré Tow Challenge—the first big-wave event of its kind run by the WSL—has been green-lit to run on Tuesday, with a large North Atlantic swell forecasted to coincide with light-ish winds, which is exactly what you want to see when talking about running an event at arguably the world’s most dangerous wave. While Nazaré is far from a perfect, reef-pass slab like Pe’ahi, and it may not look as terrifying from afar, it’s a wave where many of the best big-wave surfers in the world have copped the worst beatings of their lives.

It’s for that reason the WSL decided to stop running a paddle event at Nazaré. Ultimately, it’s just too dangerous, and doesn’t make sense. Nazaré is meant be surfed with the help of a ski, which is exactly what will happen live all day on Tuesday.

According to the WSL’s press release, “the Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge will feature 10 teams comprised of two athletes, alternating between surfing and driving the team’s ski. Each team will compete twice in an hour-long heat with a priority system to ensure all riders get their shot at some of the best and biggest waves on the day.”

Those teams are as follows:

Team World: Sebastian Steudtner (DEU) & Maya Gabeira (BRA)
Team Brazil: Rodrigo Koxa (BRA) & Pedro Scooby (BRA)
Team Great Britain: Andrew Cotton (GBR) & Tom Butler (GBR)
Team Australia: Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS) & Mick Corbett (AUS)
Team Portugal: Alex Botelho (PRT) & Hugo Vau (PRT)
Team Young Bulls: Lucas Chianca (BRA) & Kai Lenny (HAW)
Team Europe: Nic von Rupp (PRT) & Francisco Porcella (ITA)
Team France: Benjamin Sanchis (FRA) & Eric Rebiere (FRA)
Team Atlantic: Grant Baker (ZAF) & Antonio Silva (PRT)
Team Justine: Justine Dupont (FRA) surfer only/Fred David driver only

While the event will be broadcast live, the biggest difference between the new Nazaré Tow Challenge and other big-wave events (aside from it being the first tow-event in WSL history), is there won’t be a single champion crowned at the end of day. Rather, “when the competition wraps, a nominating panel will examine the video evidence and select the biggest, best-ridden waves of the day as finalists. At an awards ceremony later in the day the athletes themselves, along with a group of expert judges, will review the nominated rides and place their votes in an assortment of categories, including Men’s Wave of the Day, Women’s Wave of the Day, Team Champions and the Jogos Santa Casa Commitment Award.”

Tune in on Tuesday to watch the best tow teams in the world whip each other into unruly, oversized bombs. And fingers crossed Kai Lenny tries another mid-face air 360 while dropping in on a 40-foot wave.

This article originally appeared on Surfer.com and was republished with permission.

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