World Surf League responds to lawsuit filed by star big-wave surfer after near-fatal wipeout during contest, “He was thrown more than 20 feet in the air… It took staff over a minute to revive him.”


“He was hospitalized for a fortnight and alleged other psychological injuries, including nightmares and a fear of the ocean.”

The WSL has requested arbitration in its lawsuit with Alexandre Botelhomember of the Big Wave Tour.

In February of this year, Botelho sued the WSL, along with Bill Sharp (General Manager of the Big Wave World Tour) and Scott Eggers (Security Director of the Big Wave World Tour) in California state court for injuries sustained during Nazaré Tow 2020. Surfing challenge. During the event, Botelho was thrown more than 20 feet into the air when his jetski was launched after trying to exit the impact zone.

Botelho landed on the ski knocking him unconscious. It floated for nearly six minutes before being pulled onto the beach.

It took more than a minute for the staff to revive him.

He was hospitalized for a fortnight and alleged other psychological injuries, including nightmares and a fear of the ocean.

Botelho alleged that the WSL had “deliberately and fraudulently” misrepresented its safety measures, in particular by not hiring a lifeguard after promising surfers that an extra swimmer would be on hand.

Botelho further claimed that the WSL failed to ensure the necessary security measures, including working radios and a cohesive emergency strategy.

According to the complaint, the surfers only became aware of the lack of adequate security measures on the eve of the competition, but signed the competition agreement anyway in part because of the costs associated with travel, training and perceived obligations to sponsors.

March 21thstthe WSL filed its response and decided to impose arbitration.

Calling the events, “an unfortunate accident” (reminding a writer of a “shark incident”) the WSL alleged that Botelho actually had access to the deal, including the security provisions, for “almost three months before the event”.

Furthermore, they claimed that Botelho signed the deal ‘four days before the event was even lit’. Thus, Botelho “had months to think about the terms of the agreement before putting on a jersey and participating in the Event”.

The WSL further noted that there were four titles awarded after the event: “Men’s Wave of the Day, Women’s Wave of the Day, Tag Team Champions and Commitment Award”.

According to the WSL, in a seemingly nod to the adequacy of the WSL’s safety measures, “after observing the prompt and professional response of the WSL safety team that day, surfers took the unprecedented decision to award the Commitment Award, to none of the competing surfers, but to the security team.

The WSL also claimed that Botelho had “received weekly payments [of thousands of dollars] under the insurance policy which the WSL took out and paid for” and did not sue “until the day before these payments [sic] expiring.

Arbitration would effectively shield the dispute from public view.

If the court grants the motion, the resulting proceedings and their outcome will likely remain confidential.

More as the story develops.


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