Courts and Sal. Photo: WSL/Kirstin
Here's what happened at the WSL Awards last night
Words by Ali Klinkenberg | All videos WSL
Last night on the Gold Coast the WSL hosted their first annual awards since overthrowing the ASP. Their charming press release stated that “If you think that awards season peaked with the Oscars, think again.” It then preceded to describe the surfers as having traded “sunlight for spotlight” and used lots of double dashes ‘- -‘ which I have absolutely no inkling as to the meaning of. One of the things that really stands out from the virtual wrap up of last night’s awards, apart from what a reasonable rate Allianz offers on car insurance (just wait), and that the WSL has obviously employed the same graphic designer as Purps, is the power of commentary in making surfing interesting. Sadly there wasn’t a category for call of the year for Pottz and the gang. But here’s what they did have:
Men’s wave of the year (Kelly Slater, Teahupoo). KS won the best wave for his Chopes orb from the depths. Can’t argue with that. But the real victor here is the nation of South Africa. The commentary on Jordy Smith's J-Bay wave that kicks off this selection is the best thing to happen to the country since Madiba. Maybe. Thickness of accent is relative to level of excitement, and this is some horse-racing type shit. Bravo.
Women’s wave of the year (Stephanie Gilmore, Lowers). Steph’s wraps at Lowers were #flawless. A special mention has to be thrown out to whoever edited this clip. That plunky piano to pointless rewind move on Carissa’s wave should’ve been a nominee in a different category for manoeuvre of the year.
Men’s move of the year (Julian Wilson Oop). Julian Wilson being able to do big alley oops on end sections isn’t news. Filipe’s upside downer should’ve taken the trophy, for functionality and progression. It was his first hit on a wave that offered multiple manoeuvres, no pumps, and he landed it clean and went straight into the next. And the “Filipe HOLY Toledo” call was as obscure as it was fabulous.
Women’s move of the year (Lakey Perterson Finner). Lakey Peterson’s mini reverse that took the title would’ve cowered in fear at the ferocity of Tyler Wright’s rail work. But, I guess it begs the question, where is women’s surfing headed?
Men’s heat of the year (John John and Kelly, Teahupoo). No surprise that Luke and Anakin won this one. Any one of the waves in this clip could’ve been a contender for Men’s wave of the year. KS got the rub, as he tends to, but how long before the apprentice leapfrogs the master? This year, surely.
Women’s heat of the year. Picking the best heat in an entire year is like herding cats. What this clip does indicate however, is that the state of women’s surfing is better than ever. The rail work across the board here is exceptional, and Carissa Moore at Honolua bay is quite a thing.
Long Board world champs. The waves were long, the boards were long, the clip was short, and that wasn’t a bad thing. Harley Ingelby absolutely rips though, I saw him land a rodeo at Canggu once, on a shortboard.
World Junior Champs (Vasco Ribeiro, Mahina Maeda). Vasco Riberio from Portugal and Mahina Maeda took top honours at the World Juniors this year. Where the highly paid, highly publicised Australian juniors were is anyone’s guess, but they definitely weren’t on the podium.
Men’s breakthrough performer (John John Florence). Nobody would argue that John was the best all round performer in the surf world last year. Gabs would’ve been a close second, but it was John who won our hearts with every uncouth swing of his club; whether is was unruly Lowers, or deathly perfection in Tahiti.
Women’s breakthrough performer (Johanne Defay). It’s lovely to have a bit of joie de vivre on the women’s world tour. And the real bonus is, that every heat Johanne Defay makes, is one more time you get to listen to her beautiful broken English with a heavy French sass. C’est magnifique.
Men’s runner up (Mick Fanning). Mick Fanning’s surfing at J-Bay was truly a high point of the 2014 year. Although he may’ve missed out on the top spot, his rail game on the bottle-green walls of J-Bay was a couple of seconds ahead of the peloton.
Men’s Champ (Gabriel Medina). Oh, Gabby. Thank the Lord on high that our Brazilian brother realised his potential and cemented his nation as a real surfing force. Enter cultural diversity, character and South American passion. Bringing colour to the drabs of the surf world.
Women’s runner up (Tyler Wright). Tyler Wright sure is a powerful young lady, and possesses arguably the most formidable frontside hack on the Women’s tour. Expect a world title sooner rather than later. And a little bit of London rude boy drum and bass in the clip too. WSL, what’re you doing to us?
Women’s Champ (Steph Gilmore). What to say about Stephanie Gilmore. She’s redefined the way that women ride waves with naught but a beautiful set of pearly whites and a highline-to-wrap-back combo that puts nine-tenths of male pros to shame. Steph continues to shine bright like a diamond, and shows no signs of slowing down.