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The Big Wave Tour Explained

What happens on the Big Wave Tour is insane. And the people that make it happen probably are, too. But what's even crazier to them is staying on land while the thrill of riding a giant wave washes by.

When the sea gets huge and we backpedal towards higher ground, they run towards it. They roar to life.

And when that little human figure rockets down the face of a giant wave, we hold our breath as they charge towards whatever lies over the edge. Welcome to the 2018-19 Big Wave tour. Here's everything you need to know:

When: October 1, 2018 - March 31, 2019. Events are called on with 48 hours notice.

Big Wave Tour Events:

With the Nazaré Challenge and the Jaws Challenge running earlier this year, the only event left of the season is Mavericks. The Mavericks Challenge event window opened on November 1 and will run through March 31.

BW New WSL

The Call: During the Big Wave season window, the WSL Big Wave team is constantly monitoring an array of weather charts and tracking big storms crossing the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans with the help of our forecasting partner, Surfline. The waves must be a consistent minimum 25 feet on the face of the wave throughout the entire time of competition. Wind, tide and the effects they have will play a part when making the call.

  • Yellow Alert: If a large swell is being generated towards one of our contest locations in combination with the right local weather conditions, we will go on Yellow Alert 4 days away from the potential event run date.
  • Green Alert: 48 hours from the potential run date, WSL Big Wave Commissioner, Mike Parsons, will make the call. Green Alert means that the Big Wave Tour event is ON.
Infographic WSL

Tour Format: There are three events comprising the men's Big Wave Tour and two events comprising the women's Big Wave Tour. Surfers are awarded points on the basis of their placing in each event, with a "size coefficient" rating adding extra points for contests experiencing extremely large swells. After the final event or at the close of the window on March 31, these points are totaled, and both the male and female competitor with the highest number of points wins the Big Wave World Title.

Event Format: In the men's division, 24 competitors are divided into four heats of six surfers for the first round. Heats are generally 45 minutes and surfers may catch as many waves as they wish with a panel of five judges scoring each ride on a scale of 1 to 10. Each competitor's two best waves are counted, with their best wave being doubled. The three highest scoring surfers advance on to the semifinals, which run in the same format. The final heat is generally one hour in length.

The women's division runs on a similar format with 10 competitors participating in two five-surfer semifinals with the top three in each advancing to their final.

How to Watch: When it's on, you can watch on worldsurfleague.com or Facebook LIVE. For Big Wave updates, follow @wsl or subscribe to email notifications here.

Nazaré Challenge Competitor List:

Men:

  • WSL Big Wave Tour Top Ten Seeds: Billy Kemper, Kai Lenny, Ian Walsh, Makuakai Rothman, Lucas Chianca, Jamie MItchell, Tom Lowe, Alex Botelho, Greg Long, Natxo Gonzalez
  • Injury Wildcard: Will Skudin
  • BWA Performer of the Year Qualifiers: Grant Baker, Nathan Florence, Jojo Roper, Russell Bierke
  • Nazaré Event Invitees: João De Macedo, Rodrigo Koxa, Antonio Silva, Hugo Vau, Nic Von Rupp, João Guedes
  • WSL Big Wave Tour Invitees: Three to be selected on Green Light

Jaws Challenge Competitor List:

Men:

  • WSL Big Wave Tour Top Ten Seeds: Billy Kemper, Kai Lenny, Ian Walsh, Makuakai Rothman, Lucas Chianca, Jamie MItchell, Tom Lowe, Alex Botelho, Greg Long, Natxo Gonzalez
  • Injury Wildcard: Will Skudin
  • BWA Performer of the Year Qualifiers: Grant Baker, Nathan Florence, Jojo Roper, Russell Bierke
  • Jaws Event Invitees: Shane Dorian, Albee Layer, Mark Healey, Aaron Gold, Francisco Porcella, Tyler Larronde
  • WSL Big Wave Tour Invitees: Three to be selected on Green Light

Women:

  • WSL Women's Big Wave Tour Four Seeds: Paige Alms, Keala Kennelly, Justine Dupont, Bianca Valenti
  • BWA Women's Performer of the Year Qualifier: Maya Gabeira
  • Jaws Event Invitees: Andrea Moller, Felicity Palmateer, Emily Erickson, Jamilah Star, WSL Commissioner's Selection TBD

Mavericks Challenge Competitor List:

Men:

  • WSL Big Wave Tour Top Ten Seeds: Billy Kemper, Kai Lenny, Ian Walsh, Makuakai Rothman, Lucas Chianca, Jamie MItchell, Tom Lowe, Alex Botelho, Greg Long, Natxo Gonzalez
  • Injury Wildcard: Will Skudin
  • BWA Performer of the Year Qualifiers: Grant Baker, Nathan Florence, Jojo Roper, Russell Bierke
  • Mavericks Event Invitees: Travis Payne, Patrick Shaughnessy, Matt Becker, Anthony Tashnick, Jason Stark, Hunter Murrison
  • WSL Big Wave Tour Invitees: Peter Mel, Nic Lamb, One to be selected on Green Light

Women:

  • WSL Women's Big Wave Tour Four Seeds: Paige Alms, Keala Kennelly, Justine Dupont, Bianca Valenti
  • BWA Women's Performer of the Year Qualifier: Maya Gabeira
  • Mavericks Event Women's Invitees: Sarah Gerhardt, Emily Erickson, Andrea Moller, Jamilah Star, One WSL Commissioner Selection TBD

For more information on the Men's Big Wave Tour click here.
For more information on the Women's Big Wave Tour click here.

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