Quiksilver Surf Team Manager Chad Wells blogs about his trip down to Chile for the Quiksilver Ceremonial Big Wave Contest...
Here we are- so exicted to be invited to do the webcast for the Ceremonial Big Wave Quiky event at Punta De Lobos Pichilemu Chile. Well rocky start- my travel companions Gary Linden (comp director) Jim Compton (QS Latin Marketing Mngr) and big wave ledge Quiky rider Peter Mel all arrive in Chile- surfboards showed- luggage not! So the crew is dealing with a the luggage scenario and I'm fixated on charging my phone- my lifeline to my wife as well as Quiksilver. So through all the hubbub I realize my Mrs has loaded my backback with some Ginger Chews, Gum and a baggy of raw almonds. I'm hungry so start nibbling on the almonds as we make our way through Chili'ean customs. Whoooooooa gringo dipshit- what are those- hand them over- straight to secondary I go for attempting to smuggle in a baggy......of almonds! Go thru the wrist slapping, tedious paperwork, threat of a $220.00 fine for breaking customs laws but 1st offense has me gliding out Scott Free with a little reprimanding. Take beatings from the crew for lack of any logical thinking or common sense....roll with the punches and bang- hitting the road to Pichilemu. Oh and forgot to mention I got caught on the plane mixing my own Johhny Red & Coke....got vibed but hey- Copa Airlines is actually the shit! Good on em for being pretty lax.
3 hour car ride out to the Eco Lodge we're staying at and it's easy to see- even in the dark we're in the woods, the air is clean and Chile is almost 2nd world- legit roads- drinkable water from the tap and food that is hormone free and tasty! The next am dawns small but slightly building surf- sunny, clean, and inviting. Have a surf with Pete out at Punta De Lobos- sets hitting 5ft on the face. I've borrowed Ramon Navarros 5'8 Pod Merrick and it goes pretty damn good. Pete's testing a new 9'8 JC he actually finished shaped off a Carper machine cut- he throws cutty arcs and backhand lippers and floats- claiming after that surf it goes unreal and he's riding it in the comp. Wore a hooded 4.3 w no boots and never once was cold.
Comp day- 4am-jolt, shake, rock.....earthquake! Short but powerful. Apparently a new faultline has been discovered in Pichi..arrive at the event- small 4ft faces but clearly on the rise. Delayed til about 10am and it's on. A lot happening- too much to tell but got my friend Big Benny Wilko in the event- 5 flights later, a $200 cab ride I greet him as he pulls up- I'm stoked he capitalized on the chance to compete- lots of dollars spent but hey- this is why Ben charges and he wants it- commitment in making the trek was undeniable and we laugh at the thought of it becoming his reality. Big upsets occur- Twiggy goes down- last yrs Lobos defending champ. Benny Wilko scores bombs but the Chiliean judges offer no love for the North Narra Aussie. A few others fail but in the end it was Peter Mel, Mark Healey, Gabriel Villaran, Christian Marello, Greg Long and Jamie Sterling in the finals. Sterls missed the Eddie- the whole N Shore winter due to a bogus knee injury but rebounded- charged and finalled. Healey had some mediocre ones, Big Pete bagged a solid 9pt ride but failed to back it up. Sterls charged but didn't have anything better than Healey and it became a 2 horse race between Marello and Villaran. I felt Gabe really put himself into critical positions on his waves and in my and my co web commentator Grant "Twiggy" Baker we had Peru over Marello? Well the judges saw it a little differently and the Chiliean got the nod, the victory and kept the title at home!
Big thanks to Twiggy for the professional insight during the final in the booth, Pete, Mark and Gabriel for being true Quiksilver ambassadors in and out of the water. Ramon for everything he does- he is highly respected, recognized and represents Chile, Quiksilver and the local Pichi crew like a true king! He also loaned me his 5'8 Pod and I surfed a 400 yard left and went berko on it- I now vow to return to Chile! Quinn Campbell and Tim West for assuming water patrol all day, Murray for capturing the action. Jim Compton and Steph Castagnet for the behind the scenes logistics along w Carlos our local Quiksilver marketing dude. All the surfers for donating half the prize money to Savethewaves.org and the Pichi Crew to rebuild post tsunami. Patrick at the Lodge. Anyone else I'm forgetting- oh Carlos our Quiksilver Chile marketing Manager again for also nabbing us sweet as branded Quiksilver Suzukis to drive.
Post event party went nuts at the Lodge- BBQ- heaps of Coronas- all the big wave dudes were strategizing on their strike missions. Ramon, Benny and a few others were headed to north Chile near Arica. Healey, Greg, Twiggy and photog Jason Murray skipped out to Puerto to hook up w Rusty, Tazzy and Tim West. Me and Pete- pretty heavy strike mission to HB For the NSSA Westerns to support the grom team....very exotic!