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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Sun, 30 April 2017

Moments of monstrous madness were relived early today as the best big wave surfers gathered in Huntington Beach for the 2017 World Surf League Big Wave Awards.

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FEARFUL FEET: Jamie Mitchell won the inaugural Nazare event in giant surf. Photo Soares

A gala ceremony at the Pasea Hotel and Spa awarded $350,000 (about R4.7 million) in prize money across seven categories early today ZA time. Jamie Mitchell claimed the Surfline Men’s Overall Performance Award after incredible feats throughout the season, including an historic win at the inaugural Big Wave Tour (BWT) Nazaré Challenge. Mitchell’s win is his second at the Big Wave Awards.

He was nominated for the Billabong Ride of the Year, but it was Billy Kemper who got the big win. It is no surprise that the Maui local secured this year’s title on a gigantic wave at Jaws - he earned back-to-back BWT Pe’ahi Challenge wins. Kemper previously had a 2010 Ride of the Year nomination, a 2013 Wipeout of the Year nomination and a 2014 Ride of the Year nomination, and finally earned the headline award with his incredible barrel at Jaws on November 11, 2016.

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THAT'S A WAVE: Francisco Porcella drops down an enormous Nazare nugget. Photo Alexio

Paige Alms earned the Women’s Best Performance Award after six-straight nominations starting in 2012. Alms started charging big waves at the age of 15. Not unlike most female big wave surfers, Alms’ career has been self-supported through juggling multiple jobs to fund her travel and training.

Her commitment, hard work and passion paid off

Her commitment, hard work and passion paid off with her second win at the Big Wave Awards. In addition, Alms was also celebrated for her win at the Pe’ahi Challenge to become the first ever Big Wave Women’s Champion.

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. Francisco Porcella has made a name for himself in the big wave community over the past few years, but earned the incredible feat of the TAG Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award for his ride at Nazaré, Portugal, his first-ever Big Wave Award victory.

Other big winners of the night included Ben Andrews, who secured the Best Paddle Award for his ride at Maverick’s, California, and Shanan Worrall, who earned the Tube of the Year Award after charging through a massive barrel at The Right in Western Australia.

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BLUE CATHEDRAL: Shanan Worrel ridiculously deep at the Right in Oz. Photo Scott

18-year-old Wilem Banks took home one of the night’s most anticipated awards for the TAG Heuer Wipeout of the Year. The Santa Cruz native’s bone-wrenching fall at Maverick’s was more than enough carnage to earn the title for the young charger. It was a wave Banks knew was bound for disaster after the offshore wind took its hold and the free-fall within the wave’s lip began.

To view the award winning rides from the 2017 WSL Big Wave Awards, check out www.WorldSurfLeague.com/BigWave . The WSL Big Wave Tour commences its 2017 season on Monday, May 1, 2017. For more information log onto www.WorldSurfLeague.com

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LITTLE INSECTS: Kai Lenny was nominated for this one and he didn't win. Photo Pompermeyer

NOMINATIONS: The top Paddle, Tube and XXL entries row by row. Photos WSL

2017 WSL Big Wave Award Winners

Billabong Ride of the Year: Billy Kemper / Videographer: Etienne Aurelius
Paddle Award: Ben Andrews / Photographer: Fred Pompermayer
TAG Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award: Francisco Porcella / Photographer: Bruno Aleixo
Tube of the Year Award: Shanan Worrall / Photographer: Jamie Scott
TAG Heuer Wipeout of the Year Award: Wilem Banks / Videographer: Curt Myers
Surfline Men’s Overall Performance Award: Jamie Mitchell / Women’s Best Overall Performance Award: Paige Alms

WSL Men’s BWT Champion: Grant Baker
WSL Big Wave Women’s Champion: Paige Alms

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