Nathan Florence and Caity Simmers Are Your Stab Surfer of the Year 2023 Winners - Stab Mag

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Nathan Florence and Caity Simmers Are Your Stab Surfer of the Year 2023 Winners

Come inside for every single winner and every single vote of this best-of series.

features // Jan 10, 2024
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 13 minutes

Another year, another Stab Surfer of the Year.

This annual peer review has never been solely about contest results — we have the WSL for that. Instead, we ask our polling group which surfers inspired them the most. We ask our voters to take into account everything in our little niche: edits, films, content, social clips, impact on community and surfing they saw in real life.

We’ve noticed a fair bit of criticism about biased voting in SSOTY — and it’s valid. People do tend to vote for their friends, family, and countryfolk. But when it comes down to the winners, well, it’s safe to say that the cream always rises.

In the past, we’ve seen same-year world champion surfers take the honors: Stephanie Gilmore and Filipe Toledo in 2022, Carissa Moore in 2021, Italo Ferreira in 2019. And we’ve also watched the most exciting surfers of the year take it for their work in and out of the jersey, see: John John Florence’s back-to-back wins in 2020 and 2021.

The Best Junior: Female category has remained a tricky one. The new generation of girls is the most exciting thing in surfing at the moment, and our leaderboard in the overall Best Female category reflects that. This has made us take into account the total overall votes in each category for a few years running. 

Anyway, we’re pleased to announce our winners for 2023, and it’s refreshing to see that packing monster tubes will always be the pinnacle of surfing. 

Or as Stab commenter Erik Bogan said after Day 10:
Surfer of the year (male) – Big fucking barrels
Edit of the year – big fucking barrels
Best youtube – big fucking barrels
Film of the year – Big fucking barrels (Mikey Ireland Session)
WSL – let’s give the people Trestles again as that is what they want to see!

Okay, let’s get into the winners. 

Stab Surfer of the Year: Male

Nathan Florence (84 points)

If you have a phone, computer or means of accessing the internet, it’s no secret that Nathan Florence is the most barreled surfer of 2023. He put in the time and took us for a ride through his YouTube channel, clocking in more lifetime achievement waves in a year than most surfers get in their career. From Namibia to Indo, Ireland to Hawaii to Europe and beyond, the surfing Nathan is doing in heavy water is redefining what’s possible in heaving tubes. This is the first year that we’ve seen a non-WSL competitor win SSOTY, and it’s a truly deserved one. At the end of Day 9, 2x World Champ and last year’s SSOTY, FIlipe Toledo, was ahead of Nate by 6 points, but the Stab Premium Member vote swung the win in the middle Florence’s favor. To which Nathan responded on our Instagram post, “Thank you everyone who voted for me!!! I am honored and will make Slab Tour 2024 the most hectic yet!” 

Here’s what Nate’s peer’s had to say about him this year: 

“He just went beast mode from start to finish. He’s got some kind of wish. I hope it’s not a death wish because he’s fucking crazy.” – Jamie O’Brien 

“I think he’s rode the heaviest waves this year and didn’t ride them like a normal big wave surfer. He took the performance level in heavy waves to a whole new place.” – Grant “Twiggy” Baker 

“He’s a maniac and seems to be getting better waves all year than all of us.” – Moana Jones-Wong 

Stab Surfer of the Year: Best Male (top 15)

1. Nathan Florence – 84
2. Ethan Ewing – 79.5
3. Filipe Toledo – 75.5
4. Harry Bryant – 55
5. Noa Deane – 49.5
6. John John Florence – 44
7. Griffin Colapinto – 35
8. Mason Ho – 33
9. Russell Bierke – 29
10. Shaun Manners – 25.5
11. Mikey Wright – 24
12. Yago Dora – 19
13. Cole Houshmand – 14
14. Al Cleland Jr. – 11
15. Joao Chianca – 10

Stab Surfer of the Year: Best Female

Caity Simmers (165 points)

It was only a matter of time before Caity Simmers won this peer-reviewed poll. She won back-to-back Best Junior (2021 and 2022) awards while placing in the top ten of the Women’s. This year, she doubled the points of SSOTY ‘23 runner up and (almost) World Champ, Carissa Moore. Caity was mentioned in the top 5 of 39/45 of our surfer votes and won the Stab Premium Member vote by a landslide. She may have been the only rookie (to surf the Tour full-time) this year, but she’s much more than Rookie of the Year. 

“Most fun surfer to watch. We go surf sometimes and I’m like, dang, she surfs so good.” – Sierra Kerr

“She’s got super sick style and does airs and is fricking super cool. She won two events on her first year on tour, she charges and has good posture in the barrel.” – Griffin Colapinto 

“She rips. She’s a fresh thing on the women’s tour. She surfs in a way that’s original and cool. And she’s bringing into both her free surfing and contests and working on videos and doing the entire tour at the same time, which is pretty hard to do.” – Frankie Harrer 

Stab Surfer of the Year: Best Female (Top 15)


1. Caity Simmers – 165
2. Carissa Moore – 82
3. Caroline Marks – 75
4. Molly Picklum – 71
5. Stephanie Gilmore – 60.5
6. Moana Jones-Wong – 57.5
7. Sierra Kerr – 48
8. Erin Brooks – 34
9. Coco Ho – 29
10. Laura Enever – 28
11. Jaleesa Vincent – 22
12. Frankie Harrer – 21
13. Justine Dupont – 9
14. Vahine Fierro – 8
15. Bettylou Sakura Johnson – 6

Stab Surfer of the Year: Best Male Junior

Hughie Vaughan (18.5 points)

The back-to-back Best Male Junior win goes to our favorite blonde, Aussie flyweight — Mr. Hughie Vaughan. Hughie put himself on the map last year with his performance at Stab High, and this year, he continued to make a name for himself all around the world. Many of our voters noted his performance at the Quiksilver Festival — a contest he wasn’t in — where he was going for broke in between heats at hefty Hossegor, and for his dedication to the North Shore’s premiere locales.

Hughie was mentioned as Best Junior in 16/45 surfer votes and won the Stab Premies’ hearts by a whole lot. In 2022, Hughie barely scraped above this year’s second place Best Junior, Jackson Dorian by 2 points (18 to 16 points), and this year he split far above the pack, beating out his SSOTY rival 18.5 to 4. Big year for Hughie and it will be his last here. He’ll be turning 18 soon and entering the overall Best Male category — and he reportedly has a 2024 Stab Edit of the Year in the works. 

“I saw a lot of videos of him surfing in France and Australia, then I saw him here in Hawaii surfing Off the Wall by himself when it was big and he was going so huge. He does gigantic airs and he is so small. He’s such a grom, but then when you hang out with him he’s hilarious and everyone respects him and knows he’s gnarly at such a young age.” – Eithan Osborne 

“I spent some time with this kid out in Indonesia recently, he was going big. His energy in and out of the water is hi fi.” – Chippa Wilson 

“He makes everybody smile all the time and is the happy dude and he charges.” – Zoë McDougall 

Stab Surfer of the Year: Best Junior: Male (top 3) 

1. Hughie Vaughan – 18.5 
2. Jackson Dorian – 4
=3. Legend Chandler – 3
=3. Cannon Carr – 3
=3. Steve Roberson – 3

Stab Surfer of the Year: Best Female Junior

Sierra Kerr (18 Best Junior points + 48 Best Female points = 66 points) 

The Best Female Junior came down to Sierra Kerr vs. Erin Brooks and their total overall votes. Sierra finished 7th place in Best Female with 48 points and Erin came close behind her at 8th place in Best Female with 34 votes. A student of the Josh Kerr Academy of Tubes and Aerials, Sierra had standout performances around the world, with her paddle bomb at Chopes really turning heads.

For the past couple years, Sierra’s been stacking clips for her soon-to-be-released film Pre-Kerrsor that had a crowd of some of the world’s best surfers screaming during a premiere at the Volcom house on the North Shore in December. Sierra’s put in the work, the time, and already is one of the best females to ever set foot on a surfboard. Big things coming from this one. 

“She does huge airs, gets huge pits and that girl has no fear.” – Caity Simmers 

“For the movie she made. I watched it at the Volcom house and it was fucking insane. She paddles like eight-foot Chope and she’s doing sick airs. Her surfing is legit.” – Shaun Manners 

“In her newest film I watched in Hawaii this year, she got a psycho paddle wave at Chopes, proper psycho. Better than anything I’ve caught out there!” – Craig Anderson 

Stab Surfer of the Year: Best Junior: Female (top 3) 

Best Junior: Female 

1. Sierra Kerr – (18 Best Junior points + 48 Best Female points = 66 points) 
2. Erin Brooks – (20 Best Junior points + 34 Best Female points = 54 points)
=3. Vaihitimahana Inso – (3 points) 

Stab Edit of the Year

“Outer Edge of Leisure” starring Russell Bierke (18 points)

It was an avalanche victory for Russell Bierke and Andrew Kaineder’s jaw-on-the-floor hammer of an edit. The vibe is dark (evil, even), the title is superb, the score is radical, and the surfing gives us the best kind of anxiety. Russell landed in 9th place of Best Male surfer of 2023, and this clip speaks for itself. 2023 was the year of the slab feast, and big ups to Russ and Andrew for leaving no meat on the bone. This is 14-minutes of time well-spent, the boys will split the Bitcoin for their efforts (props to Russ for looking after his filmer).

“Russ is by far one of the best surfers in the world yet remains so humble. The way he holds himself in 20 foot waves and after 20+ beers is admirable.” – Harry Bryant 

“His latest edit makes you realize that there are individuals pushing the limits in the darkest corners of the surfing world, gnarly, empty death waves that he makes look ‘fun.’” – Kai Lenny 

“Just insane footage. Really heavy technical big wave stuff and I mean thick heavy big waves. The Shipsterns footage by Chris Bryan is just insane and Russ is hopping steps on mega barrels. Then that ender doesn’t get much better. He put time in at that spot and got a few sessions in over the years that stacked up to be just incredible wave riding. It was beautifully captured. I wasn’t feeling the soundtrack but that’s just me. Go Russ!! Go Andrew!” – Nathan Florence

Stab Edit of the Year (top 3) 

1. “Outer Edge of Leisure” starring Russell Bierke (18 points) 
=2. “Into Dust” starring Jacob Wilcox ( 5 points)
=2. “Cult of Freedom: The Shaun Part” starring Shaun Manners (5 points)
=4. “Back and Forth” starring Taro Watanabe (3 points)
=4. “Bell Jar” starring Caity Simmers (3 points) 

Stab Film of the Year

Repeater by Wade Carroll and Quiksilver (13 points)

Wade Carroll’s ode to the golden age of surfing, Repeater, had everything you want in a surf film: Hi-fi aerials, slab antics, big tubes, big turns, alternative craft, a ripping soundtrack and even a machete fight down in Oaxaca. Through the lens of Wade, Quiksilver’s been making some of the best films in surfing with Repeater coming off the tail-end of Saturn.

Repeater starred Mikey Wright, Rolo Montes, Griffin Colapinto, Kael Walsh, Al Cleland Jr., Lungi Slabb and Andy Nieblas and was filmed in Reunion Island, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Australia and Ireland over a six month period. The result is a surf hype-up film mainstay for years to come. Also, this is Wade’s second SSOTY victory in as many years, having edited Kael’s Bitcoin-winning ‘Idiot Box’ SEOTY in 2022 (Kael was reportedly not as generous with his digi-cash).

Honorable mentions in the Film of the Year category this year go to Harry Bryant and Dav Fox’s Motel Hell, which is unreleased online, but they toured it around Australia, California and Hawaii — enough people saw it live to give it a 2nd place finish; and Through the Doggy Door by Alani Media and narrated by Mason Ho, which told the story of Sheldon Paishon’s journey from poverty to pro. All are worth a watch, and Motel Hell is definitely a digital release worth the wait.

Stab Film of the Year (top 3) 

1. “Repeater” by Wade Carroll and Quiksilver – 13
2. “Motel Hell” by Dav Fox and Harry Bryant – 7
3. “Through the Doggy Door” by Alani Media – 6.5

Stab Surfer of the Year: Best YouTube

Nathan Florence (15 points)

2023 was the year of Nate-dawg. Nathan’s YouTube channel activity is the main push behind his SSOTY victory, so it makes sense his page also took the honors in its respective category. Last year, Nate and Zoard came up short against Mason Ho and Rory Pringle’s core-lord Ho and Pringle Productions. And up until Day 9, it looked to be a Ho and Pringle repeat — until he snuck past them by one point. The Stab Premium Vote gave him the extra weight towards the title.

Nate’s dedication to being on every major swell on (almost) every continent, getting slotted out of his head, and taking his subscribers with him is unlike anything we’ve seen in the surf vlogosphere. In a world of surfers’ sometimes (most of the time) cringeworthy self promotion, Nate’s been able to tow the line of watchable, likable, and totally un-relatable (for most) — but that’s its beauty. We can’t wait to see what the Slab Tour ‘24 brings. 

“I have a weird problem where I want to be at all my favorite spots if they’re barreling — and I have like 30 favorites spots that I want to be at all the time. And when I’m not there, I’m kind of eggy at myself, but Nate’s always there. He’ll hit all the spots and share the view with us.” – Mason Ho 

“I feel like he’s consistently at every good swell at every spot. He had more outstanding rides this year than most professional surfers have in their lifetime. He’s been on a few year streak and the fact that he’s done that without getting seriously injured is crazy.” – Matt Meola 

“He went mega this year. Every time I refreshed my phone I saw him in some part of the world on the scariest looking slab of ocean. I’ve grown up with him and he’s always had the best charisma but it’s so nice to see it still shining.” – Coco Ho 

Stab Surfer of the Year: Best YouTube (top 3)

1. Nathan Florence – 15
2. Ho and Pringle Productions – 12.5 
3. Chapter 11 TV – 6

Every Stab Surfer of the Year 2023 vote: 

Best Male 

1. Nathan Florence – 84
2. Ethan Ewing – 79.5
3. Filipe Toledo – 75.5
4. Harry Bryant – 55
5. Noa Deane – 49.5
6. John John Florence – 44
7. Griffin Colapinto – 35
8. Mason Ho – 33
9. Russell Bierke – 29
10. Shaun Manners – 25.5
11. Mikey Wright – 24
12. Yago Dora – 19
13. Cole Houshmand – 14
14. Al Cleland Jr. – 11
15. Joao Chianca – 10
16. Creed McTaggart – 9
=17.Ivan Florence – 7
=17. Crosby Colapinto – 7
=17. Rolo Montes – 7
=17.Noah Beschen – 7
=21. Luke Shapardson – 6
=21. Benji Brand – 6
=23. Michael Ho – 5
=23. Kael Walsh – 5
=23. Matahi Drollet – 5
=23. Skip McCullough – 5
=27. Sheldon Paishon – 4
=27. Chippa Wilson – 4
29. Gabriel Medina – 4
=30. Kipp Caddy – 4
=30. Ben Gravy – 4
=30. Kohole Andino – 4
=30. Nolan Keaulana – 4
=30. Albee Layer – 4
=35. Craig Anderson – 3
=35. Ian Crane – 3
=35. Balaram Stack – 3
=35. Clay Marzo – 3
=35. Makana Pang – 3
=35. Barron Mamiya – 3
=35. Lungi Slabb – 3
=35. Torren Martyn – 3
=35. Kai Lenny – 3
=35. Eimeo Czermark – 3
=35. Kai Sallas – 3
=46. Seth Moniz – 2
=46. Jai Gindeman – 2
=46. Italo Ferriera – 2
=46. Jeremy Flores – 2
=46. Hughie Vaghaun – 2
=46. Levi Slawson – 2
=46. Miguel Blanco – 2
=46. Jack Robinson – 2
=46. Rolando Stanley – 2
=55. Billy Kemper – 1
=55. Mikey February – 1
=55. Finn McGill – 1
=55. Josh Kerr – 1
=55. Jamie O’Brien- 1
=55. Eithan Osborne – 1
=55. Bryce Young – 1
=55. Occy -1
=55. Dane Reynolds – 1

Best Female 

1. Caity Simmers – 165
2. Carissa Moore – 82
3. Caroline Marks – 75
4. Molly Picklum – 71
5. Stephanie Gilmore – 60.5
6. Moana Jones-Wong – 57.5
7. Sierra Kerr – 48
8. Erin Brooks – 34
9. Coco Ho – 29
10. Laura Enever – 28
11. Jaleesa Vincent – 22
12. Frankie Harrer – 21
13. Justine Dupont – 9
14. Vahine Fierro – 8
15. Bettylou Sakura Johnson – 6
=16. Tatiana Weston-Webb – 4
=16. Bethany Hamilton – 4
=16. Domi Charrier – 4
19. Pacha Light – 3
=20. Bella Kenworthy – 2
=20. Karina Rozunko – 2
=20. Anastasia Ashley – 2
=20. Alyssa Spencer – 2
=20. Summer Longbottom – 2
=20. Zoe McDougall – 2
=20. Lauren L. Hill – 2
=27. Ewe Wong – 1
=27. Holly Wawn – 1
=27. Noah Klapp – 1
=27. Ishitia Malaviya – 1

Best Junior: Male 

1. Hughie Vaughan – 18.5 
2. Jackson Dorian – 4
=3. Legend Chandler – 3
=3. Cannon Carr – 3
=3. Steve Roberson – 3
6. Timo Simmers – 2.5
=7. Kalama Stratton – 2
=7. Luke Wyler – 2
=9. Dylan Wilcoxen – 1
=9. Ethan Fernandez – 1
=9. Harley Walters – 1
=9. Jacob “Zeke” Szekely – 1
=9. Hayden Rogers – 1
=9. Ocean Lancaster – 1
=9. Noah Hasset – 1
=9. Dane Matson – 1
=9. Loyal Kenworthy – 1
=9. Mana Chandler – 1

Best Junior: Female 

1. Erin Brooks – 20 
2. Sierra Kerr – 18.5 
3. Vaihitimahana Inso – 3
4. Milla Brown  – 2
=5. Sawyer Linblad – 1
=5. Tya Zebrowski – 1
=5. Peta Kenworthy – 1
=5. Chrisyln Simpson Kane – 1
=5. Willow Hardy – 1

Edit of the Year 

1. “Outer Edge of Leisure” starring Russell Bierke – 18
=2. “Into Dust” starring Jacob Wilcox – 5
=2. “Cult of Freedom: The Shaun Part” starring Shaun Manners – 5
=4. “Back and Forth” starring Taro Watanabe – 3
=4. “Bell Jar” starring Caity Simmers – 3
=6. “Wandering” starring Liam O’Brien – 3
=6. “Tropical Popsicle” starring Miguel Blanco – 3
=8. “I Love You” starring Zoe McDougall – 2
=8. “Greenhorn” starring Judd Henkes – 2
=10. “Three Days in the Desert” starring Clay Marzo – 2
=10. “Haleiwa” starring John John Florence – 2
=10. “5’5 × 19 1/4..Century – Episode 6: The Last Chapter(…for now)” by …Lost – 1
=10. “Beneath a Pear Tree” starring Ryan Callinan – 1 
=10. “Growing Normal on the Phone” starring Shaun Manners – 1

Film of the Year 

1. “Repeater” by Wade Carroll and Quiksilver – 13
2. “Motel Hell” by Dav Fox and Harry Bryant – 7
3. “Through the Doggy Door” by Alani Media – 6.5
4. “NOAH” by Andy Woodward and Noah Beschen – 6
5. “Smooch” by Jacob Vanderwork and Kolohe Andino – 5 
6. “Mash” by James Kates and Noa Deane – 3.5
7. “Vacuum” by Kai Neville and Epokhe – 2
=8. “Toasted” by Caity Simmers – 1
=8. “Are you Serious? The Sterling Spencer Story” by Stab and David Malcom – 1
=8. “The Kangs” by Vaughan Blakey – 1 
=8. “CALYPTE” by Ishka Folkwell and Torren Martyn – 1
=8. “Following the Fall Line” by Milo Inglis and Bryce Young – 1

Best YouTube 

1. Nathan Florence – 15
2. Ho and Pringle Productions – 12.5 
3. Chapter 11 TV – 6
4. Jacob Szekely “Zeke” – 4
5. The Raglan Surf Report – 2 
=6. Surf Vidz – 1
=6. Fun Boys Entertainment – 1
=6. Cola Bros – 1
=6. Shyama Buttonshaw Designs – 1
=6. Jamie O’Brien – 1
=6. John John Florence – 1
=6. Nonfictioncreatives – 1
=6. 2% – 1
=6. Dylan Graves – 1
=6. Toasted Media -1 

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