Thu, 24 March 2016

Two things stand out from the announcement of the WSL Big Wave Award finalists: a woman has been nominated for the heaviest tube, and no South Africans are included, ponders Spike.


CRAZY KENNELLY: nominated for Pure Scot Barrel of the Year. Photo Tim McKenna

Keala Kennelly is the first female nominated for an open category, but it was not about "affirmative action or special divisions", said Bill Sharp, Event Director of the Big Wave Awards, "She is nominated for the 2016 Pure Scot Barrel of the Year Award because she pulled into one of the heaviest waves ever seen (at Chopes). Just look at the photos. No further explanation is required."

I was curious to note that no Saffas are in the mix, although the worst wipeout nominees are not out yet. You have to think Grant Twiggy Baker gets a look-in after his BASE jump antics on a precipitous Jaws cliff face.

However, when you look at Josh Redman and Matt Bromley charging other Jaws giants during the recent giant swells there, you might have thought they deserved the nod. That image by Jimmy Hepp showing Redman bottom-turning beneath a colossal wall at Jaws looked right up there.

Running against them, though, is reams of evidence of other gigantic exploits during a preposterously massive El Niño winter. Cynics might also add to that the fact that the SA big wave fraternity voted against the WSL event at Dungeons. But that would not be a reason no Saffas are in the mix, right?


BIG ENOUGH: You think? Josh Redman was unlucky not to get nominated. Photo: Jimmy Hepp

In a sense though, it doesn't matter. Our big wave riders, a growing contingent in Hawaii every year, conducted themselves with aplomb. They gained respect. They charged hard. They got some waves. They had a jol.

The 'Little Boy' delivered colossal waves across the board, so to speak, and crazy new heights in big wave performance were reached. Yesterday's nominees are for biggest paddled wave, biggest wave caught, ride of the year and biggest tube, with wipe of the year, women's performance and overall performance awards still to come next Tuesday 29 March.

A lot of the carnage comes from two of the heaviest waves in the world: Teahupoo in Tahiti and Jaws off Maui in Hawaii, with appearances by Nazare, Mulaghmore and Puerto. Again, no Dungeons, but we didn't have an earth-shattering year, so no conspiracy theories there.

According to the WSL, "a panel of judges will review the nominated rides and the winners will be revealed at the invitation-only Big Wave Awards on Saturday, April 23, 2016 at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California."


MAD MARK: Nominated for this barrel at The Right in Australia. Photo Jack Sherriffs

Shortlisted surfers include 2015/16 Big Wave Tour Champion Greg Long, as well as past Big Wave Award recipients Shane Dorian, Mark Healey, and Kennelly. The nominations also include up-and-comers Nathan Florence and Albee Layer.

"There was a lot of hype around El Niño this year, and as far as the big wave community is concerned, it delivered and then some,” said Sharp. “Not only were there extraordinary episodes of historically large surf, this time around the best surfers were able to handle it as it came and the results speak for themselves. I think anyone who's been watching thinks there is a big chance records will be set when the results are in.”

The WSL Big Wave Awards window ran from March 21 last year to March 15 this year. Every wave ridden at every big wave break around the world in this period was eligible for consideration across seven categories. A panel of judges chose the five best rides in each of the categories based on photographic and video evidence. This year’s event features over $250,000 in prize money along with TAG Heuer watches for winners.


CLIFF HANGAR: Pedro Calado, Jaws, Jan 15, 2016. Biggest Paddle Award. Photo Tom Servais

The Billabong Ride of the Year is awarded to the surfer who demonstrates the most advanced and committed level of big wave surfing during a successful ride, as judged by available video-footage. While raw size is taken into consideration, it is ultimately the level of performance that is rewarded. The category carries the biggest prize of the Big Wave Awards with $60,000 for the winner, $15,000 for second place, $10,00 for third, $5,000 for fourth and $3,000 for fifth place. The first place videographer will receive $6,000, and second through fifth place videographers will receive $750.

Hawaiian surfers dominated the Billabong Ride of the Year nominations for this category, with all five finalists hailing from the Aloha State. Three of the five nominated rides took place during an epic winter at Jaws, Maui including entries from 2013 Ride of the Year winner Shane Dorian (who has a second nomination in the category from Jaws) and Albee Layer, who took second place at the 2015 Big Wave Tour Pe’ahi Challenge. Tyler Larronde secured a nomination from his massive ride at Maverick’s, California. The remaining nominee, Nathan Florence, earned his selection on a heavy ride at Teahupoo, Tahiti.


YOU'RE IT: Yuri Soledade - Biggest Wave nominee. Jaws, Feb 25, 2016. Photo John Patao

The Paddle Award goes to the surfer who paddles and rides the biggest wave of the year. The winner gets $25,000 and the photographer $5,000. This year’s nominees included rides at Maverick’s, California from local Ben Andrews and Nicaraguan Manny Resano. Brazilian Pedro Calado and Hawaiian Aaron Gold earned their nominations at Jaws. Hawaiian Mark Healey, Big Wave Tour veteran, secured his on a towering left at Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

The TAG Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award goes to the surfer who, by any means available, catches and rides the biggest wave of the year. The winner gets $20,000 and a $4,000 TAG Heuer Watch. The photographer gets $5,000. Finalists include Pedro Scooby, Garrett McNamara and Mick Corbett at Nazaré, Portugal. Two took place on Feb 25, 2016 at Jaws from Niccolo Porcella and Yuri Soledade.

The Pure Scot Barrel of the Year goes to the surfer who rides the most spectacular tube, and is judged by still photographs. The winner gets $10,000 and the photographer $4,000. Big Wave Tour champ Greg Long got a heavy tube at the 2015 Pe’ahi Challenge. Keala Kennelly pulled into a massive barrel at Teahupoo, Tahiti. Mark Mathews hooked a fat one at Aussie slab The Right. Ian Walsh got a colossal ride at Jaws. Tom Butler charged Ireland’s Mullaghmore Head.

Surfer prizes total $93,000 - Videographer prizes total $9,000
Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on December 6, 2015 (Video by Ryan Moss.)
Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on February 10, 2016. (Video by Dan Norkunas.)
Nathan Florence (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on May 28, 2015. (Video by Tim Bonython.)
Tyler Larronde (Haiku, Hawaii, USA) at Maverick’s, California on February 4, 2016. (Video by Josh Pomer.)
Albee Layer (Haiku, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on February 25, 2016. (Video by Elliot Leboe.)

Surfer prize $25,000 - Photographer prize $5,000
Ben Andrews (San Francisco, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California on February 4, 2015 (Photos by Fred Pompermayer and Frank Quirarte. Video by Larry Haynes.)
Pedro Calado (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on January 15, 2016. (Photos by 808Photo.me, Brent Bielmann, Brian Bielmann, Wangdu Hovey and Tom Servais. Video by Dan Norkunas.)
Aaron Gold (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on January 15, 2016. (Photos by 808Photo.me, Brent Bielmann, Brent Broza, Aaron Lynton and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Elliot Leboe.)
Mark Healey (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Puerto Escondido, Mexico on May 3, 2015. (Photos by Nikki Brooks, Ben DeCamp, Astrid Fonseca and Edwin Morales. Video by Jaciel Santiago.)
Manny Resano (Playa Popoyo, Nicaragua) at Maverick’s, California on December 7, 2015. (Photos by Sachi Cunningham, Benjamin Ginsberg and Frank Quirarte. Video by Rafael Sauro.)

Surfer prize $20,000 - Photographer prize $5,000
Mick Corbett (Perth, WA, Australia) at Nazaré, Portugal on February 19, 2016. (Photo by André Bernardo.)
Garrett McNamara (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Nazaré, Portugal on November 1, 2015.
(Photos by Bruno Aleixo, André Botelho, Vitor Estrelinha, Jorge Figueira and Manuel Ricardo. Video by Timelapse Media.)
Niccolo Porcella (Sardegna, Italy) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on February 25, 2016. (Photos by Erik Aeder, Rick Dombrowski, Dooma Photos, Paul Karaolides and Zack Williams. Video by Marcus Rodrigues.)
Pedro Scooby (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 27, 2015. (Photos by Bruno Aleixo, Helio Antonio, Vitor Estrelinha, Pedro Miranda and Hugo Silva. Video by André Callado.)
Yuri Soledade (Haiku, Maui, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on February 25, 2016. (Photos by Brian Berkowitz, Jimmie Hepp, Elliot Leboe, John Patao and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Elliot Leboe.)

Surfer prize $10,000 - Still photography prize $4,000
Tom Butler (Newquay, Cornwall, England) at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland on October 28, 2015. (Photo by Ian Mitchinson.)
Keala Kennelly (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on July 22, 2015. (Photos by Kirvan Baldassari, Brent Bielmann, Tim McKenna and Isaac Sokol.)
Greg Long (San Clemente, California, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on December 6, 2015. (Photos by Erik Aeder, Kelly Cestari, Richard Hallman, Paul Karaolides and Sofie Louca.)
Mark Mathews (Maroubra, New South Wales, Australia) at The Right, Australia on June 26, 2015. (Photo by Jack Sherriffs.)
Ian Walsh (Haiku, Maui, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on January 28, 2016. (Photos by Richard Hallman and Aaron Lynton.)

Photographs and video of all the nominated rides can be viewed at WorldSurfLeague.com/BigWaven, log onto www.WorldSurfLeague.com .

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