Though Mexican big-wave surf spot Puerto Escondido has long been known for producing some of the biggest waves in the world each year, its inconsistency and unpredictability had so far prevented the World Surf League from holding a Big Wave Tour contest there.
But Friday, with a solid swell rolling in, the Big Wave Tour kicked off its 2016/2017 season with the Puerto Escondido Challenge, and the wave delivered.
With the spot known as the Mexican Pipeline pumping out 20-30 foot waves, the world’s best big-wave watermen were given an opportunity to showcase their talents in world-class conditions.
A 24-man field led by reigning Big Wave Tour champion Greg Long and 2014/2015 champion Makuakai Rothman charged the challenging conditions in the early heats of Round 1, with Rothman scoring a near-perfect wave:
“The waves are really good right now and there are a lot of corners if you know where to sit,” Greg Long told the WSL after his day. “I actually deliberately rode a much bigger board than I ever do out here.”
The highlight of the day, however, came in Heat 4, when Australian Jamie Mitchell got barreled on a huge left, scoring the only perfect wave of the day while recording the highest overall heat score of the opening round.
“It was a historic day,” Mitchell told the WSL following his dominant performance. “Incredible surf and incredible barrels."
With 12 surfers remaining in the contest and the swell continuing to build into tomorrow morning, event officials will convene at 7:00 a.m. to decide whether to run the final day of the contest.
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