Who Just Won The Big Wave Awards? - Stab Mag

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Who Just Won The Big Wave Awards?

This year’s winners of the digital big wave awards got a surprise knock at the door…

news // Oct 31, 2021
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 2 minutes

It’s been a tough few years for big wave surfing.

Only two events have been listed on the WSL’s 2021 – 2022 big wave calendar: a tow-in event at Nazaré and a possible Jaws Paddle event — and that’s just for the men. The women’s calendar is empty for the entire season. Of course, much of the blame lies firmly at the feet of the COVID pandemic. But the Big Wave World tour has proved an incredibly tough business to coordinate from its infancy.

In 2019, the WSL announced it would be stripping back on events and focusing more on content creation. It was a major blow to many surfers who had qualified for the BWT, entailing a loss of prestige and the security of making a career out of big wave surfing.

There are lots of reasons why BWT tour events have been happening less and less and at a smaller scale. They are mostly related to the business model. Here’s a very simple recap.

  • BWT events are dependent on big waves. The operational and logistical work that goes into chasing purple blobs, setting up makeshift contest venues, finding time to promote it to an audience, and turn a profit is near impossible.
  • Content is king – You don’t need a BWT for people to surf big waves. The WSL’s thinking was to move to a content creation model where viewers can peek behind-the-scenes and hear stories that you can’t get in a post-heat interview. You will also see a bunch of different waves surfed, by a bunch of different surfers, in a bunch of different swells, meaning the quality of waves-ridden should be significantly higher.
  • BWT events are often pretty slow. Not always, but it’s pretty common to go 10-15 minutes without seeing a wave-ridden. It’s not good for viewers who want action on demand.

Without further mansplaining let’s take a look at who won this years 2021 Red Bull Big Wave Awards.

Ride Of The Year – Women

  1. Justine Dupont – Jaws, 16/1/21
  2. Maya Gabeira – Nazaré, 5/2/21
  3. Keala Kennelly – Himalays, 2/12/20
  4. Paige Alms – Todos Santos, 11/1/21
  5. Michelle de Bouillons – Nazaré, 22/2/21

Ride Of The Year – Men

  1. Peter Mel – Mavericks, 8/1/21
  2. Kai Lenny – Jaws, 2/12/20
  3. Kai Lenny – Jaws, 16/1/21
  4. Grant Baker – Mavericks, 11/12/20
  5. Conor Maguire – Mullaghmore, 28/10/20

Biggest Paddle – Women

  1. Paige Alms – Todos Santos, 11/1/21
  2. Keala Kennelly – Himalayas, 2/12/20
  3. Justine Dupont – Mavericks, 8/12/20
  4. Bianca Valenti – Mavericks, 12/1/21
  5. Justine Dupont – Jaws, 17/1/21

Biggest Paddle – Men

  1. Kai Lenny – Jaws, 2/12/20
  2. Peter Mel – Mavericks, 8/1/21
  3. Billy Kemper – Jaws, 2/12/20
  4. Grant Baker – Mavericks, 11/12/20
  5. Peter Mel – Mavericks, 8/12/20

Biggest Tow – Women

  1. Justine Dupont – Jaws, 16/1/21
  2. Maya Gabeira – Nazaré, 29/10/20
  3. Justine Dupont – Nazaré, 29/10/20
  4. Maya Gabeira – Nazaré, 5/2/21
  5. Justine Dupont – Mavericks, 1/1/21

Biggest Tow – Men

  1. Sebastian Steudtner – Nazaré 1, 29/10/20
  2. Kai Lenny – Jaws, 16/1/21
  3. Connor Maguire – Mullaghmore, 28/10/20
  4. Sebastian Steudner – Nazaré 2, 29/10/20
  5. Lucas Chianca – Nazaré, 29/10/20

Performer of the Year – Women

  1. Justine Dupont
  2. Maya Gabeira
  3. Paige Alms
  4. Keala Kennelly
  5. Michelle de Bouillons

Performer of the Year – Men

  1. Kai Lenny
  2. Peter Mel
  3. Grant Baker
  4. Sebastian Steudtner
  5. Conor Maguire


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