Female big-wave surfers have broken through their own version of the ‘glass ceiling’ with Paige Alms from Hawaii becoming the first ever Women’s Big Wave Tour Champion after taking a commanding victory in the final of the invitational Pe’ahi Challenge.
The world’s best female big-wave surfers made history with twelve competing in a WSL Big Wave Tour event, for the first time ever with $50,000 prize money.
The event was held at a break known as Jaws off the coast of Maui in Hawaii.
The decision to stage the inaugural women’s event came after inspiring performances by the female surfers at various big-wave locations around the world, WSL Big Wave tour commissioner Peter Mel said.
‘We’re incredibly proud to be introducing a women’s event this season,’ Mel said. ‘These ladies are some of the most dedicated, passionate and talented big-wave surfers on the planet.’
The men’s Big Wave World Tour has run since 2009 and has been very successful.
Can they qualify?
Byron Shire’s Soli Bailey has moved up by six spots into 17th position on the WSL Qualifying Series ratings ladder after his success in Brazil and heads into the final two events in Hawaii with an outside chance to make the top ten and qualify for the ‘Dream Tour’.
Bailey has already clocked up three great results on the series this year and with his best five counting towards his ratings points he has two average results that with some good surfing and smart wave selection in Hawaii could be replaced.
He is in a pack of about 20 surfers who are all in contention. Bailey finished in 18th place last year but this year is different as the depth of talent on the qualifying series is unprecedented, and even equalling his rating from 2015 will be a challenge.
Lennox Head’s Stu Kennedy is also in the mix to requalify. Stu is currently outside the top ten in 23rd spot on the QS and inside the top-22 cutoff at 18th on the Championship Tour.
Pipeline will be the last event for the CT surfers and Kennedy has a great chance of staying inside the qualification cutoff.