Stab Magazine | The Pe'ahi Challenge was Hall Of Fame!

And The Winners Of The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Are... Watch The Pick-Up Episode 5, Presented by Vans, To Find Out


The Pe’ahi Challenge was Hall Of Fame!

All photos by WSL/Kelly Cestari Last night, the swell started to fill in properly at Jaws. Each wave that came through was backed with more and more water, and overnight that energy marinated. Watching the Pe’ahi freesurf prior to the event had oh-fuck’s spitting out of mouths. Mark Mathews, wildman that he is, separated his […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

All photos by WSL/Kelly Cestari

Last night, the swell started to fill in properly at Jaws. Each wave that came through was backed with more and more water, and overnight that energy marinated. Watching the Pe’ahi freesurf prior to the event had oh-fuck’s spitting out of mouths. Mark Mathews, wildman that he is, separated his shoulder on an absolute demon prior to the event even starting. Shane Dorian was out displaying the dictionary’s definition of commitment on what the commentators are calling the biggest, thickest wave of the day. We watched it all from the sky, through some of the WSL’s best event coverage to date.

Meanwhile, the competitors remained cool. And then, they fucking charged. Prior to his heat, Makua Rothman told Strider: “It’s not about the board, it’s about the rider today. Hopefully everybody stays safe, and Mark’s okay – that was a huge one he went down on.”


Billy Kemper never looked like losing today. He got after it.

Billy Kemper came out swinging in his home dungeon. Absolutely ignoring the rows and rows of teeth that had Pe’ahi’s Jaw chattering. He looked right at home, fully calm and charging. Carlos Burle dropped into one late, tried to kick out, took the lip to the chest and rolled down a 40 foot avalanche, then took the next wave on the head. One of the worst wipeouts of the event. Then went straight back out and pulled into a psycho one. And that was how the day kept going. Guys getting beat down, and going back for more. Including Kai Lenny, who got belted, then picked up by the ski, which then couldn’t outrun a foam monster and was flipped (with Kai on the back), and then paddled back out. The thirst is real.


Greg Long packs a nine-point closeout for the chopper and fans but, mostly, for himself.

Greg Long in heat two came out ready to play. He racked up a nine point ride by packing a closeout on a wave that was borderline tow-worthy. Along with the deadly locals, Greg was one of the best today.

As was Albee Layer. Guy did just what he’s best known for at Jaws: Knifing and packing the crazy west bowls that Jaws serves. Though the ones that hit the inside are smaller than the sets, they’re more technical and still big enough for Albee to stand tall with both hands raised above head and get nowhere near within reach. “If there’s one guy I wanted to beat in this, it was Albee,” said Billy Kemper.

Shane Dorian was obviously killer as well, and while he wasn’t able to find anything in the final, his lead up heats were beyond worthy of re-watching, which you will at length.


Oh, Shaneo!

But the day belonged to Billy Kemper. The guy was on it from first moment to last, and won the final over some of big wave paddling’s biggest names (in order): Albee Layer, Greg Long, Ian Walsh, Gabriel Villaran and Shane Dorian. All of whom jumped off their boards to hug Billy right after the final siren – how about that big wave camaraderie? Watch one of his best moments from the final up top.

“This is a dream come true,” said Billy. “We’ve been talking about this moment for years and to have a paddle event in my backyard at, to me, one of the most premier, outstanding waves in the world, means everything to me. I just want to dedicate to this my brother. To paddle Pe’ahi has been a dream of mine for a very long time and to be out there with some of my favourite surfers and best friend – I’m just speechless.

“We passed the word talking out there and I told the boys we can always surf another big day at Jaws but we can never replace each other. The main thing is at the end of the day to come back our families. I’m there for everyone and they’re all there for me.
It’s a feeling you can’t reproduce or explain it to people. Just a feeling of breaking through a fear factor where it’s all adrenaline. I’m over the moon – I’m just happy to be sitting here doing this interview.”

The Jaws event has been hovering on the horizon for so long that it now feels surreal to have watched, and come to the end of, what may just be the best big wave contest ever run. And here we are.

The only bummer? Mick Fanning wins $40k at Sunset. Billy Kemper wins $25k at Jaws. That ain’t right.

Comprehensive video wrap, here:

1. Billy Kemper (HAW) 22.77
2. Albee Layer (HAW) 19.33
3. Greg Long (USA) 16.26
4. Ian Walsh (HAW) 1.00
5. Gabriel Villaran (PER) 0.80
6. Shane Dorian (HAW) 0.00

SF 1: Greg Long (USA) 21.53, Billy Kemper (HAW) 16.66, Gabriel Villaran (PER) 12.03, Trevor Carlson (HAW) 11.04, Shaun Walsh (HAW) 8.66, Carlos Burle (BRA) 3.34
SF 2: Albee Layer (HAW) 23.60, Ian Walsh (HAW) 19.79, Shane Dorian (HAW) 17.67, Mark Healey (HAW) 14.09, Nic Lamb (USA) 10.07, Kai Lenny (HAW) 9.56

Heat 1: Billy Kemper (HAW) 21.07, Gabriel Villaran (PER) 18.17, Carlos Burle (BRA) 17.27, Nic Vaughan (USA) 16.70, David Wassel (HAW) 8.33, Nathan Fletcher (USA) 6.00
Heat 2: Greg Long (USA) 24.50, Shaun Walsh (HAW) 23.83, Trevor Carlson (HAW) 14.74, Aaron Gold (HAW) 6.00, Makuakai
Heat 3: Albee Layer (HAW) 11.93, Nic Lamb (USA) 10.34, Mark Healey (HAW) 9.63, Yuri Soledade (HAW) 9.27, Tyler Larronde (HAW) 7.61, Grant Baker (ZAF) 5.34
Heat 4: Ian Walsch (HAW) 21.67, Kai Lenny (HAW) 19.21, Shane Dorian (HAW) 18.17, Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 4.01, Koa Rothman (HAW) 1.20, Anthony Tashnick (USA) 0.20

2015 WSL BIG WAVE TOUR TOP 5 (after two events):
Billy Kemper (HAW) 15,625
Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 13,156
Albee Layer (HAW) 13,020
Greg Long (USA) 10,850
Nic Lamb (USA) 10,565


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