“It felt like it was getting too dangerous,” Mike Parsons said while making the call to end the Jaws Challenge for the day as the swell producing 40-60′ faces built and the trade winds rose. “It's a tough call to make at the end of the day but safety has to remain the number one thing.”
Parsons made the call after the first heat of the men’s event, where there was only one make amongst slew of carnage. Grant “Twiggy” Baker didn’t hesitate to pull into a hollow XXL monster but didn’t find his way out. After surfacing he went straight to the medical boat and didn’t return to competition. Defending Big Wave Tour Champion Billy Kemper also fearlessly pulled into a gigantic tube that ended up swallowing him whole, he earned a 8.17 (x2) for the effort. Despite suffering a brief blackout during the heat after a two-wave hold down, Kemper managed to finish in the lead. Russell Bierke got third in the heat and will advance as well.
While deliberations were taking place to continue to run heats or not, Kemper was being interviewed by the WSL. Kemper stated that the wind plaguing the competition was an element surfers that grew up on Maui, like himself, are used to. "Someone will win ride of the year if they do call this thing off. It is gnarly, it is dangerous, but this is what we live and train for," Kemper said, referring to the inevitable freesurfs that would happen after the call.
Kemper was right. Shortly after Parsons postponed the contest Albee Layer locked into a screaming XXL tube, jersey-less. Kai Lenny is putting on an absolute tow-in surfing clinic right now by ripping the 50’+ faces as if they were head high Lowers. To watch, click here.
When the contest resumes tomorrow, the swell is expected to be smaller but with with stronger winds.
For a recap of the women’s portion of the Jaws Challenge, that was able to run in entirety this morning, click here.