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The giant wave handlers

Return to Punta Galea in the XVI Punta Galea Challenge



October 2022

The giant wave handlers

One of the most amazing extreme sports events in the world will take place this winter, the XVI Punta Galea Challenge, from 15 October to 31 March, on a day that the North Sea squalls will define this winter. A select group of surfers from all over the world sign up and remain alert to the forecast of the arrival of giant waves on the coast of Bizkaia. The beast waves must be strong, consistent and reach a height of at least five metres between the wave and the crest. Walls of water.

As soon as it is confirmed that the giant beasts are approaching the cliffs of La Galea, the security system is set up, the handlers and their boards are assembled, the jury is set up and the public is gathered at the points with the best visibility.

Last year, the waves decided to appear around 20 February and the most graceful performer was Natxo González from Bizkaia. When the operation is activated, the municipality of Getxo provides a free shuttle bus from Bidezabal (30 minutes from the centre of Bilbao) to Punta Galea. The shuttle leaves from Bidezabal every hour on the dot and returns halfway from the La Galea car park until the end of the competition.

Giant wave

Inside a giant wave

To find out exactly what it feels like to be inside a giant wave, just read this statement from Irish big wave surfer Conor Maguire interviewed on the Red Bull website:

“Holding your breath for five minutes while sitting on your couch at home is awesome, but it won’t do much good when you’re underwater as two giant waves come crashing down on you one after the other. And that’s not even taking into account that we’ve already used a lot of energy just paddling the wave. On top of that, adrenaline is pumping through your veins with an increased heart rate to go with it. Due to this, your body will consume much more oxygen than when static and relaxed. Add a couple of seconds of turbulence underwater with your limbs flying all over the place and be prepared to lose oxygen quickly before panic takes over…”.

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