Stab Magazine | Should Tow-Ins And No-Makes Qualify For The Big Wave Awards?

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Should Tow-Ins And No-Makes Qualify For The Big Wave Awards?

Nominees announced for 2019 Big Wave Awards.

news // Apr 12, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The winter of 2018/19 is in the books. Another big-wave season done and dusted. As continues to be the recent trend, Nazaré stole the show, while Jaws had its days, as did Mavs.

The WSL Big Wave Awards final nominees have been announced. Can’t you just feel summer around the corner?

Early favorites? Well, that depends. For Ride of the Year did you like seeing Twiggy get atomized by Jaws or were you more of a fan of Kai Lenny’s strap-assisted 20-foot airdrop? Decisions, decisions.

Twiggy’s also got two waves in the Biggest Paddle category, while Lenny’s also up for the Biggest Wave. Something tells us they better get their acceptance speeches ready.

For the ladies, Justine Dupont came out of nowhere this year to earn herself numerous nominations. She has two of the three Biggest Wave Award nominees. Usual suspects Paige Alms and Andrea Moller are in the mix for Biggest Paddle Wave, as is Dupont. Newly crowned women’s Big Wave World Champion and former Big Wave Award winner Keala Kennelly is noticeably absent from any nominees, even the wipeout category, which she used unsparingly to earn her World Title.

Of course, the Big Wave Awards are never without controversy. Albee Layer was quick to point out some omissions from his hospital bed after just having his hip replaced. He felt both Bianca Valenti and Nic Von Rupp, as well as himself, should have been nominated for Rides of the Year.

Albee’s caption (sic) to the above post: @wsl @wslbigwaveaward nominations are in haha. Every year I think it’ll be different and I end up feeling just like Dwight above. Taking nothing away from any of the surfers nominated, they are all the best of best obviously but in my opinion falling shouldn’t count and towing shouldn’t be compared to paddling. I can’t believe @biancavalenti and @nicvonrupp waves were no where (as well as a few others and also mine haha). I swear this needs to change, just for the longevity of our sport as a whole. We should encourage the next generation to SURF big waves not survive them. It’s a weird thing to tell the next generation that it’s okay to fall in life threatening situations. Just one persons thoughts on a subjective sport, if I offended you just take comfort in knowing I’m pouting from a hospital in a land locked state and won’t be winning any awards. But also deal with it cause I’m going nowhere

Fair enough, but for some perspective, this is the 19th incarnation of the Big Wave Awards, and every year there are rides that don’t get nominated that should, as well as rides that get nominated that shouldn’t. It’s all part of the subjectiveness of whittling 365 days of wave-chasing down to five rides. 

Although, Russell Bierke is another big-waver on Albee’s wavelength.

Should be complete and paddle in only,” he said on the matter. 


Screen Shot 2019 04 12 at 9.29.52 PM

Russ practices what he preaches. Photo: @russellbierke


Frankly, critiques have become part of the entertainment. We all remember the hubbub when somebody thought it would be a good idea to have Christian Fletcher introduce the 2009 winner for Biggest Wave, Sebastian Steudtner.  

“The fucking German that cant paddle won the award!” cackled a bemused Fletcher. “Sebastian something-or-other. He cant even fucking paddle. Hitlers illegitimate step-child, heres Sebastian…

Steudtner’s nominated again this year, and hopefully things go a little smoother for him.

The only nominees that weren’t announced were for the male and female Overall Performance awards. Smart money is on Lenny and Dupont taking those home, but we’ll see. The awards show will be held in Redondo Beach on May 2. Here’s the list of official nominees:


Grant Baker (Durban, South Africa) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii, on November 26,  2018 (Video by Carlo Carbajal)

Naxto Gonzalez (Basque Country, Spain) at Nazaré, Portugal, on November 16, 2018 (Video by Jon Aspuru)

Billy Kemper (Maui, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 26, 2018 (Video by Johnny Decesare)

Kai Lenny (Maui, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 26, 2018 (Video by Ryan Johnson)

Ramon Navarro (Pichimelu, Chile) at Cloudbreak on May 22, 2018 (Video by Taylor Curran) 


Carlos Burle (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 26, 2018 (Photos by Martin Caprile, Dooma Photos, Aaron Lynton and Randy Sorrow. Video by Carlo Carbajal)

Tom Butler (Newquay, United Kingdom) at Nazaré, Portugal, on December 14, 2018 (Photos by Pedro Cruz, Jorge Leal, Manuel Ricardo and Rafael G. Riancho. Video by Jorge Leal)

Kai Lenny (Maui, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 26, 2018 (Photos by Martin Caprile, Mike Coots, Ryan Craig, Robin Ernst, Aaron Lynton and Randy Sarrow. Video by Marcus Rodrigues)

Sebastian Steudtner (Nuremburg, Germany) at Nazaré, Portugal on February 7, 2019 (Photo by Pedro Miranda. Video by Pedro Miranda)

Anthony Tashnick (Santa Cruz, California) at Mavericks, California, on December 17, 2018 (Photos by Fred Pompermayer and Frank Quirarte. Video by Benjamin Ginsberg)


Justine Dupont (Segnoisse, France) at Nazaré, Portugal, on November 9, 2018 (Photos by Mike Jones and Pedro Vilela. Video by Antione Chicoye)

Justine Dupont (Segnoisse, France) at Nazaré, Portugal on November 18, 2018 (Photos by Rafael G. Riancho and Shannon Reporting. Video by the WSL Team)

Nicole Pacelli (Guarujá, Brazil) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii, on January 12, 2019 (Video by Marcus Rodrigues)


Grant Baker (Durban, South Africa) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii, on November 26, 2018 (Photos by Adam Carbajal, Dooma Photos, Robin Ernst, Richard Hallman, Aaron Lynton and Kenny Morris)

Grant Baker (Durban, South Africa) at Mavericks, California, on December 17, 2018 (Photos by Tony Canadas, Elijah Crowell and Benjamin Ginsberg)

Pedro Calado (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) at Nazaré, Portugal, on November 18, 2018 (Video by Laurent Pujol)

Nathan Florence (Oahu, Hawaii) at Mavericks, California, on December 17, 2018 (Photos by Elijah Crowell, Benjamin Ginsberg and Todd Turner. Video by Elijah Crowell)

Billy Kemper (Maui, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii, on November 26, 2018 (Erik Aeder, Matin Caprile, Ryan Craig, Robin Ernst and Aaron Lynton. Video by WSL Team)


Paige Alms (Haiku, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on October 9, 2012 (Photos by Erik Aeder and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Elliot Leboe)

Justine Dupont (Segnoisse, France) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 26, 2018 (Photos by Ryan Craig, Dooma Photos and Richard Hallman. Video by Antione Chicoye.)

Andrea Moller (Ilhabelha, Brazil) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on January 16, 2016 (Photos by Keale Lemos and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Elliot Leboe) 


Russell Bierke (Ulladulla, Australia) at Nazaré, Portugal, on January 26, 2019 (Video by Antione Chicoye)

Alex Botelho (Lagos, Portugal) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii, on November 26, 2018 (Video by WSL Team)

Trevor Carlson (Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 27, 2018 (Video by Marcus Rodrigues)

Lucas Chianca (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 26, 2018 (Video by Marcus Rodrigues)

Makua Rothman (Oahu, Hawaii) at Cloudbreak, Fiji on May 22, 2018 (Video by Taylor Curran)


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