ULLADULLA’s Russell Bierke has made a successful start to his World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) career, by reaching the final at the Nazaré Challenge.
Bierke, an Ulladulla Boardriders Club member, finished sixth in the final to South Africa’s two-time Big Wave Tour Champion Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker – in incredible 25-to-40-foot surf, at the infamous Portuguese big-wave venue of Praia do Norte, Nazaré.
In the final, Bierke managed a waves of 3.00, 1.17, 6.03, 5.17 and 6.43 (with the top score being doubled) – for a combined score of 18.19.
This score saw him finished sixth in his first ever BWT event, behind Grant Baker (25.04), Brazil’s Lucas Chianca (23.31), Basque Country’s Natxo Gonzalez (22.71) and Portugal pair Alex Botelho (22.06) and João De Macedo (20.87).
Bierke reached the final on Friday, by dominating his heat number two in the opening round – scoring 14.86, placing him second behind Hawaii’s Ian Walsh (24.34).
After getting through the opening round, Bierke moved into the semi-finals, where he placed third in heat one, scoring 21.47, to place behind Brazil’s Lucas Chiancaand (25.63) and Portugal’s João De Macedo (25.40) and ahead of Hawaiian trio Nathan Florence (20.76), Billy Kemper (18.23) and Ian Walsh (18.00).
The next event BWT event on the schedule is the Mavericks Challenge, which has an open period from November 1 to March 31.