The World Surf League often makes for an easy punching bag. Decisions to run events, not run them, cancel them on account of sharks, or move them to Uluwatu are all moves that are easy to armchair quarterback after the fact. Especially among fans that have no financial stake in what the League chooses, and does not choose to do. As they say, you can’t please everyone.
Among the choices the WSL has made in recent months that have taken heat was the decision not to run the final event of the Big Wave Tour season – the Maverick’s Challenge – as an incoming purple blob looked poised to flirt for a spell with the California coast in December of last year.
If you recall, WSL officials were eyeing potentially suspect winds and volatile conditions and elected not to mobilize for a swell that peaked on December 17th. The cost of not running at the time was merely a flurry of comments online blaming BWT Commissioner Mike Parsons for making a bad call – especially once it panned out to be pretty big, albeit somewhat warbly. But, with plenty of time left in the waiting period, it appeared Snips and the WSL would have the last laugh.
A comment from WSL lead forecaster Mark Sponsler to ABC7 back in December reveals as much.
“A weak El Niño should help fuel the jet stream, but it’s slow in coming so later in the season is probably a better option,” he said.
Unfortunately, this winter has been slower in the Northern Hemisphere than most anticipated, which explains why the League felt compelled to provide an update on the status of Maverick’s on Tuesday.
“The North Pacific is showing potential swells from March 19 through March 26th for Mavericks,” said Commissioner Mike Parsons in a statement. “It is too far out to make a decision on if we will run or not, but we will continue to closely monitor the conditions as the storms get closer. The Mavericks window officially closes on March 31, 2019, and we will keep our fingers crossed for a great day before then.”
That the WSL feels caught on its back foot after not running in December is obvious in a qualifying paragraph following Parsons’ quote in the release.
“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 release reads. “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.”
If the contest does run, the League may have to thank their lucky stars Mother Nature came through at the last minute. And if it doesn’t Keala Kennelly and Grant “Twiggy” Baker will be your Big Wave Tour world champs – a fact Kennelly made clear she’s not super keen on given the women’s Jaws Challenge, which she won, ran in incredibly difficult conditions with few completed rides.
So, will Mav’s run? We’ll have to wait and see.