Stab Magazine | Stab Predicts The 2016 Big Wave Award Winners

Stab Predicts The 2016 Big Wave Award Winners

And the winners should be…

news // Apr 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last night at the Billabong offices in Irvine the judging panel for the WSL Big Wave Awards gathered. They scrutinised and debated. Presumably somebody introduced a pair of calipers and they measured. All the while the fate of big-wave careers hung in the stale Orange County air.

After, dare we say, a historic El Nino winter, last night the judges convened to crown their kings of the mountains. It’s another 48 hours until the show gets underway and the oversized checks are presented, so we figured we might as well spoil the surprise and reveal the winners… or at least who we think should win. The following are Stab’s picks for the 2016 Big Wave Awards:


Ride of the Year: Albee Layer, Jaws, February 25

(Watch above)

Albee absolutely punished himself trying to get this wave this winter. Riding shorter boards than anybody out there, in this instance he was able to fight through the wind to make the drop. Setting a clean line, he’s able to thread his way through at least three sections as the wave compressed and finally blew him out into the channel. It’s not the biggest wave of the winter, but as far as big-wave performance surfing goes, Albee’s ride was stupid good.


Paddle Award: Aaron Gold, Jaws, January 15, 2016

How is anyone going to deny Aaron Gold his moment in the spotlight? Pedro Calado’s left on the same day is a close second. Both guys got detonated before they could make it around to the shoulder. But Gold’s wave appears to have a little extra girth. Some have called it an 80-footer, in which case it would be a world record for the biggest wave ever paddled into.


XXL Biggest Wave: Yuri Soledade, Jaws, February 25, 2016

Yuri Soledad’s called this the wave the ride of his life, which says a lot considering he was paddling Jaws long before Shane Dorian and Ian Walsh got in on the action. On February 25 it was too big to paddle so Yuri picked up the tow rope and was whipped in by Chuck Patterson. “I have never gone that fast on a surfboard in my life… I could easily have died,” says Yuri. “If I didn’t make it, I don’t know what would have happened.” Not only is Yuri’s wave giant, but it’s heavy too. He makes it through a massive bowling wall just to make it around the corner, which is what separates it from the nominees from Nazaré.


Barrel Award: Mark Mathews, The Right, June 20, 2015


WSL/Jack Sherrifs

This division is based on photography not the actual ride itself, and because of that we have to go with Mark Mathews at The Right. If it was based on video Greg Long packing a closeout at Jaws would probably take the cake, but the composition and rawness of the Mathews photo (shot by Jack Sherrifs) is too good to ignore.


Wipeout: Garrett McNamara, Maverick’s, January 7, 2016

When it comes to beatdowns this winter, Garrett McNamara might have gotten the worst of it. On a huge day at Maverick’s when the swell direction and interval was wrong and the conditions were borderline out of control, G-Mac was frothed out. The only person to even attempt to catch a wave, he made it about three quarters of the way down the face before he got bounced. He skipped like a corpse and was viciously flogged. He wore the rest of the set on the head and came away with a severe shoulder injury. Eventually his recklessness had to catch up with him, we’re just hoping he gets rewarded for it.


Best performance: Shane Dorian

During the best winter in memory, of course Shane Dorian’s performance stands above the rest. He’s got multiple nominations this year and the utmost respect from his peers. Guys like Kai Lenny, Will Skudin and Jamie Mitchell went all in this winter, but when it comes to grit, Dorian left no doubt he’s still the steeliest guys in the water when it’s 30 feet and firing.


Women’s Performance: Keala Kennelly

The Barrel of the Year could easily have gone to Keala. The wave she got at Teahupoo last July is as thick and scary as anything anyone’s ridden out there. Then in January she was paddling the Outer Reefs on Oahu, as well as charging Jaws. Keala’s a mad dog that shows absolutely no signs of slowing, and we love her for it.


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