In this week's edition of Extreme Exposure—a weekly column featuring the top news and photography from the world of action and outdoor sports—big swells power the Pacific Ocean as the Todos Santos Challenge goes off in Mexico, Jaws sees one of the biggest days in years and much more.
The big wave-riding world descended on a tiny island in northern Baja, Mexico this weekend for the WSL’s Big Wave World Tour, Todos Santos Challenge. Todos Santos Island is actually a pair of islands about six miles west of Ensenada, an hour and a half south of the border. Killers, where the contest was held, has long been a big wave destination as surfers charter boats out to the island when the swells are big. Unfortunately, this swell didn’t exactly go off as forecasted—it was expected to be in the 40-foot range but didn’t get quite that big and was hampered by winds. Still, it was a solid competition as "hellmen" from all over the world charged. World Championship Tour veteran Josh Kerr (who finished ranked 11th this year) snagged a couple of beauties to take the surprising win ahead of Greg Long who caught one scoring wave but couldn’t manage a backup in the final.
“To get the win here is so special,” Kerr says of his first victory since 2010. “I literally haven’t won a contest for about five years so I don’t know what this feeling of winning is going through my body right now. I’m kind of tripping.” With his runner-up finish, Long took over the Big Wave World Tour ratings lead. Carlos Burle, 49, finished third. The Brazilian won a contest held at Todos in the winter of 1998-99, 17 years ago.
Meanwhile, at Jaws…
Just before Big Wave Tour professionals charged Todos Santos, the swell of the year was pounding Pe'ahi on Maui’s north shore. And there were a whole lot of superlatives being thrown around. And rightly so: the conditions were big and glassy as the wind stayed down for an incredible paddle-in session this weekend where some of the best surfers in the world traveled, including the likes of Kelly Slater. And while Aaron Gold paddled in to what some are calling the biggest wave ever caught without a jet ski, perhaps none of the waves ridden this weekend were as critical as this bomb from Ian Walsh, who pulled under the lip with his typical casual style, which he seems to maintain, even in the most perilous of situations.
A Monster of a Series
The Monster Energy Supercross series continued in San Diego this weekend with Ryan Dungey returning to the top of the podium with his first win of the year. With the win, Dungey takes over the points lead in the series. Chad Reed ended second for the 128th podium of his career and last week’s 450SX class winner, Jason Anderson initially finished third but was penalized for jumping during a red flag situation where a rider was on the ground after a wreck. The penalty moved him down to 5th. When the red flag flies, riders are required to keep their wheels on the ground.
Anderson now trails Dungey by six points in the overall series lead while Cole Seely, who moved up to third thanks to Anderson’s penalty, is also holding down the third spot overall. Cooper Webb won his second consecutive race—and sixth straight dating back to last season. He now holds a commanding 14-point lead in the 250SX class over Jordan Smith while Jason Savatgy and Zach Osborne are tied for third. The Monster Energy Supercross, which runs through the rest of winter and into spring, continues in Oakland, Calif., January 30.
The search continued for 23-year-old ski instructor Carson May over the weekend, who went missing at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort in Northern California on Thursday. May became separated from his brother while he was skiing on his off day and has not been seen since as his possessions were still in his locker at the resort. May is from a skiing family. His father, Mike, holds the world speed record for a blind skier. The elder May’s story was chronicled in the book, "Crashing Through." The search continued for the missing skier into Sunday night and was made more difficult by heavy snows at the resort that made avalanches a serious concern.