While the local port authorities declared a surfing ban at Nazaré yesterday due to the spectacle attracting thousands of spectators to congregate on the cliffs, the WSL’s Nazaré Tow Challenge event will run as soon as conditions allow, with a closed to the public, no-spectator format.
The event waiting period officially opened Monday 2nd Nov, missing the peak of the historic Epsilon swell by 72 hours. With many of the participant tow teams currently located in the Portuguese town but unable to surf Praia da Norte, Wavelength understands the WSL Big Wave speciality event is likely to run at the next sizeable swell, which could be as soon as mid November.
Following the near-tragedy involving Alex Botelho and Hugo Vau at last winter’s inaugural event held in February (listen to the Nazaré debrief pod episode recorded on the cliffs), a few tweaks have been made to the format, and operationally.
“The main goal is safety”Garrett McNamara
Nazaré pioneer Garrett McNamara will be Winter 20/21 contest director, currently in Nazaré monitoring conditions and teams. Listen to G-Mac’s take on Epsilon in our latest episode of It’s Not The Length Podcast.
This year will see twelve tow teams, each surfing two heats. Unlike the expression session format used last winter, judged from footage by the surfers and organisers, this year, scores will be allocated per ride by a judging panel, with double whammy for the high score.
With Justine Dupont and Maya Gabeira being among the standout performers from the entire field in February’s event, increased women’s participation in line with WSL’s push for parity should see the addition of at least one women’s competitor, with the favourite for invitation being Nazaré based Franco-Brazilian charger Michelle de Bouillons.
“It’s been a real pleasure, working with everyone behind the scenes on the event,” Garrett told WL. “We’re addressing valid concerns from the athletes. The main goal is safety; we have to be safe. The second goal is, well it’s Momma Nazaré, it’s all about the women. We’re working really hard on increasing the women’s division and that’s really special.”
Cover image: Justine Dupont. WSL/Helio Antonio