Basque surfers aren't known for baulking at big waves, and young Bizkaia local Natxo Gonzales is no different.
At just 17 years old Gonzales has won the Arnette Punta Galea Challenge in Getxo in the Spanish Basque Country. For the effort he banked 3,000 euros and has been awarded a wildcard into the next Big Wave World Tour (BWWT) event that takes places in the Southern Hemisphere (Chile or Peru). When that day comes he will be the youngest ever BWWT contestant.
"I decided to get my spot at the peak and stay quiet. My sponsor brought me a new surfboard and everything worked really well, the board responded perfectly and thanks to that I surfed with confidence. I think it is the secret in order to do well in these kind of conditions."
Coming in second was Chile's Ramon Navarro, who found the 30- to 40-foot conditions challenging. "At first it was hard," noted Navarro. "It was big and kind of bumpy. Local surfers made good use of their knowledge of the wave and positioned themselves better. Then, wave after wave, I've gained confidence, and, by the end, I was able to catch some good ones."
The completion of the Mavericks Invitational earlier this month put Peter Mel in the front-running of the BWWT ratings, but with contests in South America, Mexico and Oregon still pending, it's early days in big-wave country.
1. Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 3000 Euro + BWWT Wild Card
2. Ramon Navarro (CHI) 2000 Euro
3. Adur Letamemdia (EUK) 1000 Euro
Worst Wipeout: Indar Unanue (EUK) 500 Euro