Stab Magazine | The 12 Best Waves Surfed in 2014

The 12 Best Waves Surfed in 2014

Photo above by Ryan Miller, as seen on 2014 was a very good year for surfing. We had a new world champ (Gabs), we had the greatest contest ever (Teahupoo) and we had a new controlling body of the ASP. Kelly learnt a new trick, Koa Smith caught the greatest wave that’s ever broken on […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Photo above by Ryan Miller, as seen on

2014 was a very good year for surfing. We had a new world champ (Gabs), we had the greatest contest ever (Teahupoo) and we had a new controlling body of the ASP. Kelly learnt a new trick, Koa Smith caught the greatest wave that’s ever broken on sand and air reverses continued to be the most hated trick in surfing.

Anyways, we enlisted the help of many big name world tour surfers in this list. Yes, there are some brilliant rides missing but that’s the thing about lists: not everyone can win. We expect vitriol but we guarantee there are no waves that you’re talking about that we haven’t discussed. And, let’s also note there are plenty of waves that have been ridden that we’re yet to see. John John is working on a secret film project and all of those waves are being saved. There are reportedly waves from there that would certainly make the list. Kai Neville is also working on his film project Cluster and everyone from Dane Reynolds to Craig Anderson to Noa Deane have been saving their clips for this. When Kai releases his film in February, we predict a flourish of web clips when every surfer realises only 15 waves of their 300 were used.

These are the most spectacular rides of 2014.


12. Taj Burrow and Mark Mathews, The Right, WA. (August)

The Right is dangerous enough, but Mark Mathews and Taj Burrow thought they’d up the ante a little in pursuit of “getting the shot.” Both wore the bubble bath of a lifetime to get the shot. Mark ruptured his eardrum and dragged his face across the reef. Taj scooped a shoulder injury that sidelined him from the tour for the rest of the season.


11. Bethany Hamilton, frontside rotation at Padang, Indonesia. (July)

Starring in Dolphin Tale 2 or The Amazing Race ain’t got nothing on blasting a frontside finner at Uluwatu, and dear Beth knows it. Her international, president-meeting fame comes curtesy a toothy encounter at home on Kauai some years back, but her game above the lip is all her. From rolling in at big Pipe to rotators in Indo, her abilities sans limb are nothing to scoff at. “That’s the Latifah special right there,” notes rap icon turned daytime talk show host Queen Latifah. This wave features in her upcoming biopic by Aaron Lieber, Surfs Like a Girl.


10. Benjamin Sanchis at Nazare, the biggest wave ever ridden? (December)

Remember when Burger King brought out the quad stacker? This is kinda like that. For the love of god, how big are people going to go on these crude burgers! On November 12, 2014 Benjamin Sanchis was whipped into what could possibly be the biggest wave ever ridden (and wiped out on). “It’s the biggest wave I’ve ever seen ridden,” said Taj Burrow. “Have you seen a bigger wave before?” He was right. This is one serious avalanche at Nazare, Portugal. The wave has already induced endless banter back and forth about about its size and scale and how it fits into the pantheon of riding moving mountains, and the conversation regarding Sanchis wave will continue well into the new year, but perhaps Shane Dorian sums it up best, “I’m just so baffled the Atlantic Ocean produces this sort of thing.” So are we Shane, so are we.


09. Shane Dorian at Jaws, just recently. (December)

“I got three waves this day, I made two and got mowed on one,” recounts Shane Dorian about this December session when paradise collided with 20-foot surf at Jaws. Light offshores, clean and perfect, it was the kind of day “where you could surf more aggressively and really push the performance level with turns and tube rides.” Admittedly not a fan of crowds, Shane waited patiently and and picked this one off. He seems to have a knack for that.


08. Steph Gilmore’s 10 from the final at Lowers. (September)

Over the years there have been no shortage of memorable moments from the cobblestone Mecca that is Lower Trestles, and in every such instance it’s been a man making the statement. From Christian Fletcher to Kelly Slater it’s always been a boys club, until this year when the bumbling ASP got something right and decided to let the girls loose on the open-faced A-frame. With the contest on the line, Steph Gilmore went ape in the final and earned a perfect 10 from the judges. “Going into Trestles it was the one stop that I was really excited about because it’s such a good wave and the girls have never had a go out there,” says Gilmore. “And to get a ten and win the contest, that just makes it all that much more incredible.”
Said John John Florence after this wave: “Steph’s 10 in the final would have scored a 7.5 at least in the men’s. She surfed that wave better than a lot of men on tour could.”


07. Matahi Drollet, Teahupoo. (September)

When it comes to getting waves, sometimes pedigree matters. On Sept. 11 on a maxing southwest swell the Teahupoo lineup was closed for the filming of the “Point Break” remake. Bruce Irons, Dylan Longbottom performed the “stunt” surfing, while Raimana Van Bastolaer, Laird Hamilton and Manoa Drollet dutifully played the role of water safety. During a lull in the shoot, as wave after wave thundered down the reef unridden, Manoa grabbed his 17-year-old younger brother Matahi, and put him right in the center stage. “Manoa, he’s been surfing out there so long, he knows that wave so well,” tells Matahi, who’s no slouch himself despite his age. “We had a chance to get a couple out there during the swell, and we saw this set coming. He put me in the sweet spot and all I had to do was hang on.” That may be putting it a little mildly considering the wave’s girth, but the statement does speak to the young Tahitian’s humility.


06. Tom Curren’s 10 at J-Bay. (July)

True, Jordy Smith slammed a dynamic 10-pointer at J-Bay this year, but he’s in his prime, he’s from South Africa, he’s supposed to. Fifty-year-old Tom Curren’s graceful ballet on the other hand, now that was something special. Tom’s surfing was as fluid and timeless as the first time he surfed there. The bottom turn, the wrap and snap, it was all quintessential Tom, and to end with an extended tube to crowd salute, it embodied everything that’s magical about the man’s affinity for right-hand points. When asked about it later, in his classic understated monotone style, he explained, “Yeah, J-Bay was pretty fun.”


05. Kelly Slater’s 10 at Chopes against John John Florence. (August)

Watching John John since he was the size of a sand flea, it’s no secret Kelly relishes every opportunity to surf against surfing’s prodigal son. The non-rivalry rivalry that these two have cultivated is probably the most exciting thing going in competitive pro surfing. It played out last year in the final of the Pipe Masters, but the show at Teahupoo this year, well, Taj Burrow called it “the best contest ever,” which says something. And the highlight of the whole thing was when Two John’s opened the semifinals with a 9.9 only to kick out and watch Kelly on the wave behind. Steep, deep, hands-free and unanimously perfect from the judges, Kelly rose to the occasion, as he’s done for the last two decades. Need more be said?


04. Gabriel Villaran at Puerto Escondido. (July)

A list of this nature would not be complete without a contribution from the dirty Mexican Pipeline, and this year that honour goes to Gabriel Villaran and the sand-spitting, frothing bull he rode on July 5. Sliding in early and setting himself up properly off the bottom, then things got nasty. A churning, burning cauldron of sand and salt water, Gabriel disappeared only to eventually reemerge in some seriously turbulent waters.


03. Kelly Slater’s 540 from Portugal. (October)

Just when you thought the cagey 42-year-old couldn’t fly with the kids, Slater uncorked this 540 during a free surf session that went viral around the world immediately. “Kolohe was talking about how there was this crazy air wind, so I hit this close-out, I just spun as quick as I could, and ended up backwards, and was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to make this thing.’ And I spun and rode it out and was like, ‘Whoa, cool!’” As for Kolohe’s response: “It was really inverted, which makes it sick.”


02. Koa Smith’s 43-second tube from Namibia. (May)

What would you do with nearly a minute in the tube? Good question. There aren’t too many people that would know, but Koa Smith is one. This year he scored a 43-second screamer at Skeleton Bay in Namibia and lived to enjoy the digital fruits of such an act. “It just kept going and going,” he smiled months later. “It was section after section and it spun so perfectly down the sandbar. I don’t think there’s a better sand-bottomed wave anywhere in the world.” To date, the edit that Koa and his brother Alex put together, called Diamond in the Desert, has racked up over 320,000 views… but it’s Koa that got the view that really counts.



Photo by Ryan Miller, as seen on

01. Kolohe Andino’s tube-to-air combo in Portugal. (October)

2014 may go down as the year of the combo, and Kolohe’s tube-to-alley oop in Portugal is impossible to top. “I thought it was mental,” says Jordy, who watched it all go down. “It was an average surf, but he paddled way up to the top and sat there for a while. Eventually this wave came to him, an absolute fucking bomb, and he got so barreled, then raced down the line and hit the section. It was like he hit it because he was just psyched on the pit and it was like a fly-away kick-out, but the way the lip hit him it just popped him so high in the air and he was still so centred over his board and the wave and everything lined up perfectly. He rode out of it and just started screaming “Fuck, the best wave of my life!’” As for Kolohe’s response, he’s pretty convinced he never would have tried to stomp the landing if John John, Jordy and Josh Kerr hadn’t been watching. Peer pressure does have its advantages. The sequence ended up on the cover of Surfing magazine, and from our perspective was the best wave ridden in 2014.

*The footage will be released for a Kolohe film piece, due out in March 2015.

Sequence by Ryan Miller/ (click link for full article)



























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