"People are small, waves are big and far away!"
Were you on the edge of your seat, wondering what the World Surf League was going to do with their Big Wave World Tour leading into the northern hemisphere fall/winter 2019/2020? Neither was I but an important press release sent out this morning also sent ripples across the surf journalism world. Ripples so big, so robust, as to form into a “big wave” themselves and shall we read together? We have to. We can’t not.
Today, the World Surf League (WSL) announced its new and enhanced Big Wave platform. WSL’s new platform for big wave surfing will deliver unrivaled big wave action through the new Strike Missions series, reimagined events, the Big Wave Awards, and year-round content, all centralized into a new digital home designed to spotlight the boundary-pushing performances by big wave surfers.
The new WSL Big Wave platform raises the profile of big wave surfing and empowers its athletes by capturing and showcasing more exciting big wave moments. Instead of waiting for swells to hit, the dynamic new platform will allow the WSL to be faster to react, going deeper into the action whenever and wherever the biggest waves are breaking. This will offer fans the most thrilling content, including strike mission highlights, and the latest news in the world of big wave surfing.
The WSL’s new platform will feature four distinct areas, in addition to year-round content: the Strike Missions series, the Jaws Big Wave World Championships at Pe’ahi, the Nazaré Tow Challenge, and the Big Wave Awards.
The Strike Missions series will track swell models and deploy WSL camera teams into the eye of the storm in order to showcase big wave surfing beyond competitions. With the launch of WSL Studios earlier this year, this new content will bring fans closer to big wave surfing than ever before through exclusive behind-the-scenes storytelling and unparalleled highlights.
“I am excited about the big picture here and looking at big wave surfing differently with this new platform,” said Keala Kennelly, reigning Big Wave World Champion. “The new approach is going to reflect the reality and adaptability of big wave surfing where these incredible feats happen at any time, and with WSL, I want to be able to share these epic moments with the world.”
The WSL will host two reimagined events this season at Pe’ahi, Hawaii and Nazaré, Portugal. The Jaws Big Wave World Championships at Pe’ahi will feature the best and most proven big wave surfers from around the world to decide the men’s and women’s Big Wave World Champions. Big wave surfing’s most iconic break, Pe’ahi (aka Jaws), is known as the greatest test of skill and courage in the paddle surfing universe. The Nazaré Tow Challenge will host invitees as they utilize jet skis to tow into Nazaré’s biggest waves. Nazaré is the home of world record-setting waves and will display barrier-breaking surfing in this never-before-seen competition.
Important but do you really really care about the Big Wave World Tour? I didn’t until today but this “Strike Mission” business mixed in with a grand slam format seems the future of professional surfing and I just had to call Senior Vice-President of Tours Etc. famous professional surfer and star of Endless Summer II Pat O’Connell for more. He was gracious enough to take my call and also gracious enough to speak truth.
Chas: I don’t care that Mavericks has been disappeared. Those locals should be stoked. They get the best days of their year back. Any Mavericks aficionado will be partying in the streets right now. Freedom!
Pat: So what we’re really trying to do here is deliver on a year ’round proposition. To capture the pinnacle moments and let’s take Tahiti for example. If we can capture that content of epic swell days and deliver it to the people quickly, why wouldn’t we do that? People are small, waves are big and far away. All we’re trying to do is make this more accessible and with this new format I think it’s the best way to make that happen.
Chas: I completely agree and think you should shift this format onto the regular tour?
Pat: There’s no plans for that yet but we take things as they happen every day.
Chas: Well hurry up with those plans!
We chatted lots more, a freewheeling discussion about surfing, in general, and professional surfing, specifically. Pat is engaged in the process and but ruthlessly narrowing down the big wave events to two that are guaranteed to run every year then adding a fun, reflexive video component seems the way the entire enterprise should go.
Don’t you agree?