Greg Long’s picks for the WSL Big Wave Awards
Story by Theo Lewitt Surfing’s most hyper-masculine evening is a week away. The former XXL Awards, now WSL Big Wave Awards (thanks for the extra syllables!), will hit the Grove of Anaheim on May 1 – the only night of the year these adrenal gland junkies can sit still for such an extended period of time. The nasty waves this […]
Story by Theo Lewitt
Surfing’s most hyper-masculine evening is a week away. The former XXL Awards, now WSL Big Wave Awards (thanks for the extra syllables!), will hit the Grove of Anaheim on May 1 – the only night of the year these adrenal gland junkies can sit still for such an extended period of time. The nasty waves this fam have been nominated for aren’t dull. From endless descents down mountainous Nazare royales, to skimboard slides through maxed Puerto caverns (Domke, you animal!), the celebrated XXL rides are a perfect display of man vs. sea (or man/machine vs. sea). Rather than making our own picks for who should take home the cheddar, we asked Greg Long, a man well-deserving of his own eight XXL awards, to see who he thinks should come out on top. Read this before you fill out those ballots…
Ride of the Year: I think that Shane (Dorian) will probably take it out. My two personal picks are Gabriel (Villaran) and Shane’s waves (at Puerto). But, to me, Gabriel’s barrel (below) was more impressive. It had that wow factor where I was in total disbelief that he made it. But what Shane has going for him is that dramatic airdrop (above) at the beginning which really catches people’s eyes, and this voting goes out to a very large panel. You can find an argument for either one, but if I’m predicting, I think Shane is probably going to win.
Paddle: My pick would be Twiggy for his wave at Jaws for a number of reasons. Size wise, we’re gonna see all of the nominated waves within a few feet of each other, height-wise. He was the only person who successfully rode his wave. That’s something I would really like to see in the paddle-in category. Not to write off Jamie, Nic, or Damien, but there has to be something given to the completion of the ride, along with the height. So, if they’re all within a foot or two of each other, Twiggy will take it. I still think, depending on which photo they use to measure it, his will be the tallest anyways.
Biggest Waves: I honestly have no idea, but it will come from Nazare. I’m sure of that. But, every single one of those waves has an angle that makes it look 100 feet, and one that makes it look much smaller. The winner will depend on which photo is picked to measure the wave, I think.
Tube: Matahi Drollet’s wave from Tahiti. No doubt in my mind that it’s the biggest, craziest wave in that category.
Wipeout: Jamie Mitchell’s wave from Mavericks. That was the heaviest thing I’ve ever seen.
Overall Performance: I would say Twiggy will probably take that one. He had a really good run in the Southern Hemisphere, and then also had some great performances this winter over at Jaws and a couple of the outer reefs. All through it he was battling a couple Injuries, but he really kind of bounced around.
Women’s Performance: Well, if you look at the criteria, it specifically says that the most diverse number of surf breaks will factor in. If it does, then it will go to Kealla Kennelly. She surfed Jaws, Mavs, and did a couple of other trips. But, in my opinion, based on a single wave performance by a woman, I would pick Paige Alms for her wave at jaws. That was the single greatest big wave ever ridden by a female. She doesn’t really have the means to be traveling around chasing swells, so she really just focuses on what’s in front of her. And her performance there this year was probably the best ever in the history of female surfing. She would be my pick.
Are there any waves that weren’t nominated that should’ve made the cut? Yeah. I would have nominated Twiggy’s wave at Jaws for Ride of the Year. In my opinion, that was probably the biggest wave successfully paddled into out there. Technically, what he had to do to get from the top of that wave to the bottom, around the corner and in the bowl and ride that thing out was truly an athletic feat in the grand scheme of big wave surfing. Not to mention just to have the balls to actually turn underneath the lip on a giant thing like that.
What’s your take on Brad Domke’s skimboard nomination? No disrespect to Brad at all, he’s an extremely talented athlete and what he did on a skimboard is astounding, it was an incredible wave and barrel. But, it really opens up a lot of doors for the awards in terms of alternative crafts coming into the mix. If you’ve got all the skimboards now, why not include the hydrofoils, or why not a stand up paddle board? It really opens up a can of worms. The way that I look at it is if that were just a standard tow-in barrel with somebody riding a board with fins, it wouldn’t have really made much of a mark. Granted, he added a whole extra degree of difficulty doing it with no fins, but I think it’s gonna be tough to quantify that it was more dramatic because he had no fins. For quite a number of years, we’ve been asking that the divisions be separated. Tow-in vs. paddling. If they’re together, it convolutes the bigger picture. I know a majority of the surfers would like to see that happen. A category for catching waves with your hands, one for the use of motor craft assistance, and maybe a category for alternate means of craft. There’s a lot of room for it to develop.
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