You're About To See 12 Women Charge Jaws Or Todos Santos

17 Oct 2016 0 Share

Sally Mac

Coastalwatch Digital Editor

Keala Kennelly makes history at the 2016 Big Wave Awards winning the Biggest Barrel category against an all-male category. Photo by Tim McKenna

Keala Kennelly makes history at the 2016 Big Wave Awards winning the Biggest Barrel category against an all-male category. Photo by Tim McKenna

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When you visit the World Surf League website and click on the event’s drop-down tab in the navigation, on the men’s side there are six events and four for the women. Very shortly the women’s list will gain one more subheading – the Big Wave Tour and the waiting period is now officially open.  

Paige Alms (HAW), Justine Dupont (FRA), Laura Enever (AUS), Emily Erickson (HAW), Maya Gabeira (BRA), Bethany Hamilton (HAW), Keala Kennelly (HAW), Andrea Moller (BRA), Silvia Nabuco (BRA), Savannah Shaughnessy (USA), Jamilah Star (USA), Bianca Valenti (USA). As well as; Makani Adric (HAW), Easkey Britton (IRE), Wrenna Delgado (USA), Felicity Palmateer (AUS), Paulina Ralda (GTM), Tammy Lee Smith (ZAF), Maria Ignacia Valdés (CHL)

These twelve invitees and seven alternates, have been selected by the World Surf Leagues’ Big Wave Commissioner Peter Mel as those who will lead the way into the first women’s Big Wave Tour. In 2016/17 these ballsy twelve will take on either the Pe’ahi (Jaws) Challenge in Hawaii or the Todos Santos Challenge in Mexico when conditions switch on, sometime between October 15, 2016 to February 28, 2017.

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We asked Peter Mel about the selection process for this inaugural list of invitees. He was stoked to be able to showcase these incredible women and their talent in big waves. He said “In my experience, competing brings the best out of everyone. It will be amazing to watch the best women big wave surfers have a platform in which the can show their talents.”

On the selection process, Mel said, “We used several different platforms in which to chose the list. We have the Big Wave Awards, which has a women's performance award and credits all the best big wave rides during a calendar year. We also polled a women's surfing committee which was headed up by a surfers representative, Bianca Valenti. Finally, we discussed the options within our commissioner's office.” Mel highlighted that this is just the step in a solid future for women’s big wave events and suggested the possibility of a qualifying event in the sport’s development.

It will be a pretty momentous occasion for a number of reasons, women in surfing have been charging harder in the last year than ever before here are just a couple of headlines to jog your memory;

  • Keala Kennelly made surfing history winning the 2016 Big Wave Award, Barrel Of The Year Award for her massive barrel at Teahupoo - Kennelly was the first female to win this award up against all-male nominees.
  • Bethany Hamilton surfed a near maxing out Jaws just six months after having her child.
  • Felicity Palmateer conquered The Right in Western Australia
  • Tyler Wright paddled into Teahupo’o with her brothers.
  • Paige Alms got tubed at Jaws.
  • Justine Dupont descends mountainous southern France outer reef.
  • Savannah Shaughnessy blows up on Maverick’s bombs.
  • Maya Gabeira continues to push the limits at Nazare, Portugal.

Earlier in the year the organisers of the Mavericks big wave event in California got very upset when the local council ordered that they include women in future events or risk being shut down. There is a handful of local women who surf Mavericks at it’s biggest, girls like Savannah Shaughnessy, Sarah Gerhardt and Bianca Valenti are looking forward the 2017 Titans of Maverick’s event and seeing just how the event’s board will include them.

Bianca Valenti commented during the contentious time earlier this year saying,  “For me, Mavericks is more than just the one-day competition, but competitions advance the sport and if you include women, it advances the sport for everyone… We are highly skilled and we want to put on a good show.”

Paige Alms’s home break is Jaws on the east coast of Maui. She’s surfing some of the most advance big wave boards in the world shaped by Sean Ordonez of SOS Shapes, who also shapes for Avant Garde big wave surfers and watermen Albee Layer, Matt Maola and Kai Lenny. Alms has the mental and physical capacity to surf the biggest waves in the world and mix it up alongside the men, undoubtedly. Alms will this year have the opportunity to show the world just how much guts, energy and aptitude she has to surf waves 50 feet high.

She has said it feels great to have this event in place and sanctioned by the WSL “With that (sanction) comes more publicity and some prize money for us and we will get see if the world will truly wants to see it what we have to offer!  I’m  really looking forward to having an empty lineup if the event is held at my home break, Jaws with such an awesome list of amazing and capable women!"

The format of competition that goes as follows; “Two Semifinals of 6 women in each heat will narrow the field, with 3 moving on from each Semi to the final. The Women's Championship is proud to offer over $30,000 in prize money.” According to the World Surf League.

Sure their bikinis will be replaced with inflation vests and wetsuits, but there will be something a whole sexier about these twelve women when they’re dominating bone-crushing, career-defining mountains of water on the world stage. There is something satisfying about seeing the successes of a new generation of sport and sports equality being played out in front of you. This will be an epic event, bring it on!

Tags: video , bigwave , women , surf (create Alert from these tags)

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