The 2015/16 World Surf League’s Big Wave Tour is looking forward to a spectacular winter season fueled by major El Nino conditions. After releasing the list this week filled with 36 of the best big wave surfers on the planet, it looks like the Big Wave Tour is locked and loaded and merely awaiting the “Green Light” to get competition underway. NYSEA is proud to announce that New York native Will Skudin made the cut, and has been selected to be a competitor in both the Punta Galea Challenge and the Oregon Challenge while also receiving the 2nd alternate slot in the Todos Santos contest. To make the news even sweeter, NYSEA’s Hawaiian ambassador and long-time friend Kealii Mamala will also be competing alongside Will in the Oregon Challenge. Both these guys have worked hard to earn their spots in these events. Kealii Mamala was the 1st surfer ever to win a big wave paddle event in Oregon in 2008, following that with second place the following year. Will won all his preliminary heats up to the finals of the last big wave event in Oregon, finishing 5th place overall in the closest final of the 2014 tour.
The stage is set and the boys are ready to roll. We caught up with Will and Kealii about their thoughts on this upcoming opportunity.
NYSEA – Congrats on the invitation to the Big Wave Tour guys, what does this mean to both of you ?
Kealii – This means a lot to me and my family. Why, because I have been trying to get into the big wave tour for a very long time and now I got my shot. I am all in. I’m going to do my best to win this thing.
Will – To be honest I was not counting on the invites this year and was expecting to have to do the alternate thing again. So I was shifting my focus onto the XXL awards and looking outside the box for bigger cold water waves. It was a great email to receive. So, I guess it’s time to shift back to competition mode. This means the world to me and I cant wait to put a jersey on again.
NYSEA – Correct me if I am wrong Kealii, but didn’t you win the first ever paddle event here ?
Kealii – Yes. I won the first ever paddle event in Oregon. There was about 12 surfers and I got the biggest wave of the day and took home the win, and got second the next year.
NYSEA – What is it about Oregon that you both like ? And why do you think you have been so successful at this wave ?
Kealii – I love Oregon because it’s such a beautiful place. The coastline is so magical and the waves are the best on the west coast. Also the people are really nice. I feel a strong connection with that area.
Will – Oregon is such a raw place. It’s got all the elements to make it scary but still beautiful. The locals there have always been super cool, there’s just a good vibe all around. The wave itself is very similar to an outer reef in Hawaii that myself and Kealii have surfed a lot, so I feel like that has helped us competitively out there.
NYSEA – You will be competing alongside each other, what does that mean to you guys ?
Kealii – I will be competing against my brother Will and it’s gonna amazing, because we are going to be traveling together and we will get some warm waves together in Hawaii first. Another thing is we get to cheer each other on and look after each other out there. I can’t wait to get this event on.
Will – In the 10 years of us knowing each other we have never been in the same event. So, yes this is going to be a special moment for us. It will be great to cheer each other on. I hope we are battling side by side in the final.
NYSEA – Will, you also got invited to the Spain contest and as an alternate at Todos Santos. What are your thoughts on those venues ?
Will – The Basque Country is amazing and the people are epic. The wave itself is a hard wave to figure out, I am not going to lie. There are a lot of different take-off spots and you always have to watch those clean-up sets. I have been there twice now, so I will take what I have learned and use it moving forward. Todos Santos is a very special place to me. It is kind of my first love haha, the wave I fell head over heals for, where I got my 1st 20 footer (40 foot face) when I was 19. I really hope I get into that event, I feel the most confident out there and I know the line up well. All I can do is pray to get in to that one.
NYSEA – Thanks guys for your time, and good luck !! Take home the Win !!