Carissa Moore and John Florence are the 2021 Stab Surfers of the Year - Stab Mag
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Carissa Moore and John Florence are the 2021 Stab Surfers of the Year

Plus, Caity Simmer and Jai Glindeman take Best Juniors, ‘Sonic Souvenirs’ wins Best Edit, and ‘Reckless Isolation’ wins Best Film.

Words by Stab
Reading Time: 9 minutes

We’ve spent the last month calling, texting, electronic mailing and DMing surfing’s elite to find out who was the ‘best of’ 2021.

We feel it’s only right to give the world’s best the chance to highlight those whose surfing’s inspired them IRL, at their local, in events, and through their digitized screens. It’s a subjective affair, but the truth of the matter is, the cream always rises to the top, no matter how biased or off-the-wall a few picks are.

Who are we to tell Harry Bryant that the totally unknown, underground charger Chris “Dorf” James — described as “an honest scaffolder built like a brick shithouse,” who he’s “seen at his home break (Konys) on his Moonraker treating an open ocean bombie like the beginner setting at URBNsurf” — didn’t in part inspire the go-for-broke surfing he displayed in his tied-for-2nd place edit, Bio Haz?

Plus, if we only polled those who spend their surfing years around the contest site, we’d end up with the same 10 surfers from each poller — and it would probably mirror the WSL rankings. Variety is the spice of life, as they say. 

Before we get into it, here’s a quick recap of how this whole thing works:

Stab Surfer of the Year is a 10-part peer-reviewed poll featuring five surfers a day. Each surfer is granted five picks in the Surfer of the Year: Male and Surfer of the Year: Female category and one pick in the Best Junior: Male, Best Junior: Female, Best Edit and Best Film categories. The scores are tallied up on a first-to-last system: 5 points for each 1st place vote trending downward to 1 point for each 5th in the Surfer of the Year categories. One point is awarded to each junior, edit and film. The final ten percent of the vote is given to the most critical and discerning surf fans this side of the internet, you: The Stab Premium Members. 

And now, let’s introduce our Stab Surfers of the Year. 

2021 Stab Surfer of the Year: Female

Carissa Moore (179 points)

In 2021 Carissa Moore was un-fucking-touchable. If it could be won, she won it. See: the Triple Crown, the World Title (her 5th), the Olympic Gold Medal. She did all of this while continuing her position as Hawaii’s role model, giving back with her charity Moore Aloha, and never letting that infectious smile fall from her face. In Stab Surfer of the Year, the points talked, and Carissa made her way onto over 80% of our voting pool’s top five, standing in the number one spot of that vast majority. This left Stephanie Gilmore and the 16-year-old Caity Simmers to battle it out for the number two spot. Carissa nearly doubled second-place Steph’s points in the end (81 points).

Here are a few of the best quotes about Carissa from our voters:

Straight up dream year! First she dominated the World Tour all year — no one was even close — then goes and wins a Gold Medal in perfect fashion and tops that off with the World Title. What else could she have done? Oh wait she did a fucking huge air at Newy and created more history for herself. Straight up boss! – Mick Fanning 

​​She’s just an amazing person to watch in the water. Her accomplishments this year were inspiring to me, and got me fired up for competing this next year. – John John Florence 

She won the Olympics, the World Title and just for always being our hero over here in Hawaii. – Mason Ho 

She won the World Title and the Gold Medal, kind of a big deal. – Paige Alms 

Surfer of the Year: Female (top 15 surfers)

1. Carissa Moore (179 points)
2. Stephanie Gilmore (91 points)
3. Caity Simmers (82 points)
4. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (47 points)
5. Coco Ho (43 points)
6. Sierra Kerr (40 points)
7. Justine Dupont (39 points)
8. Tatiana Weston-Webb (37 points)
9. Jaleesa Vincent (34 points)
10. Erin Brooks (33 points)
11. Caroline Marks (19 points)
12. Holly Wawn (17 points)
13. Vahine Fierro (15 points)
14. Malia Manuel (12 points)
T15. Bronte Macaulay (11 points)
T15. Molly Picklum (11 points)

2021 Stab Surfers of the Year: Male

John John Florence (108 points) 

John Florence came out swinging in 2021 with his Pipe Masters win and that session at Himalayas. Then he got hurt. During his absence, John dropped his film Maps of Home featuring the facial reconstruction of big Haleiwa, Rockpile and that session at one of the North Shore’s infamous outer reefs—where he pigdogged through XL tunnels with apparent ease. Despite his bunk knee, John surfed in surfing’s first Olympics. He then disappeared for a few months and came back with the perfect 10 heard ‘round the world, a win at Haleiwa, and topped it off with another win at the HIC Pipe Pro. The surfing he did post-injury, when applied to the few moments we saw him through 2021, was enough to push him three points ahead of the 2021 World Champ, Gabriel Medina, and 14 points ahead of 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist, Italo Ferreira. 

Here are a few of our favorite quotes about John from the SSOTY voters:

John is consistently the best across all conditions on either side, from competition to freesurfing. – Kelly Slater

I was blown away at that film he put out from Hawaii, Maps of Home, fucking could not believe what I was watching, then that stuff he did at Haliewa. He’s the best, right? – Craig Anderson 

His 10 at Haleiwa. Period. – Coco Ho 

He came back from his injury like nothing happened. Every time you see that guy surfing, you’re like, ‘what in the world, how’d you do that turn on that wave?’ – Eithan Osborne 

Surfer of the Year: Male (top 15 surfers)

1. John John Florence (108 points)
2. Gabriel Medina (105 points)
3. Italo Ferreira (94 points)
4. Mason Ho (43 points)
T5. Kolohe Andino (25 points)
T5. Jack Robinson (25 points)
7. Griffin Colapinto (22 points)
8. Mikey February (21 points)
9. Nathan Fletcher (18 points)
T10. Benji Brand (17 points)
T10. Craig Anderson (17 points)
12. Ian Crane (16 points)
13. Noa Deane (14 points)
T14. Pete Mel (13 points)
T14. Filipe Toledo (13 points)

2021 Best Junior: Female

Caity Simmers (16 points + 82 Surfer of the Year: Female points = 98 total)

The impression Caity Simmers left on the surfing world in 2021 is undeniable. After her 2020 Stab High win in Indo, where she could also be seen packing respectable tubes and laying her rail with power and poise, Caity was officially on the map. Fast forward to 2021 and Caity is becoming a household name. She came runner-up in Stab High Costa Rica, won the US Open, qualified for the CT basically on accident, and declined her spot on tour in the biggest power move since Pancho Sullivan retired. When we asked about it, Caity said, “I don’t want to give my whole life to competitive surfing yet. And I want to be home for more than, like, five days a year.” 

While the rest of her peer group (Bettylou Sakura Johnson, Sierra Kerr and Erin Brooks) all finished in the top ten of Surfer of the Year: Female, Caity’s surfing was declared the most mature and exciting. After all, her surfing is consistently granted the comparison of Dane Reynolds mixed with Tom Curren. Which is flattering, no matter which way you cut it.

Here are a few of our favorite quotes about Caity from the SSOTY voters:

Seems like a super cool kid and she’s been ripping! – Dane Reynolds

She just goes for it, and she is so talented. She’s coming and I’m scared! – Filipe Toledo 

She surfs in contests the exact same way she freesurfs. She qualified for the tour and sticks big airs. Which is pretty sweet. – Holly Wawn

Best Junior: Female (top 4 surfers)

1. Caity Simmers (16 points + 82 Surfer of the Year: Female points = 98 total)
2. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (7 points + 47 Surfer of the Year: Female points = 54 total)
3. Sierra Kerr (9 points + 40 Surfer of the Year: Female points = 49 total)
4. Erin Brooks (14 points + 33 Surfer of the Year: Female points = 47 total)

2021 Best Junior: Male 

Jai Glindeman (8 points + 7 Surfer of the Year: Male points = 15 total)

This is 17-year-old Jai Glindeman’s second consecutive Stab Surfer of the Year Best Junior win, and also his last. While Jackson Dorian and Luke Swanson gained more points in the Best Junior: Male category, Jai was the only of the U18 crew whose surfing was noted multiple times in for overall Surfer of the Year giving him an extra 7 points to push ahead of the Hawaii kids. The young Australian is on his way to style iconism. His long, drawn-out lines have the essence of Margo. He surfs poetically and beyond his years. 

Here are a few of our favorite quotes about Jai from the SSOTY voters:

Whenever Jai’s name pops up I watch it because I love the way he surfs. I feel like he has really relatable footage in a cool stylish way. The surfing people are doing nowadays is like surf gymnastics. I like Jai, he’s throwback in a way. – Kolohe Andino 

He’s an amazing surfer and he’s got something extra. And he’s been charging lately. He’s just one of those freakish talents that you have to watch. – Wade Goodall 

His surfing is so smooth. He’ll do these really sick highlines then come off the bottom and blow his fins out. He’s gnarly. – Caity Simmers 


Best Junior: Male (top 4 surfers)
1. Jai Glindeman (8 points + 7 Surfer of the Year: Male points = 15 total)
2. Jackson Dorian (10 points)
3. Luke Swanson (9 points)

2021 Best Edit

Sonic Souvenirs by Kai Neville and Mikey February (6 points) 

The Best Edit category is possibly the hardest to win. There’s just sooo much content that makes its way onto our devices on a daily basis. Kai Neville and Mikey February’s cultural series, Sonic Souvenirs, took the ‘best of’ accolade in the end. Proving that well-produced made-for-web pieces with a storyline and backed by eye-pleasing surfing are the perennial fan favorite when up against the classic rip clip. Sonic Souvenirs rose to the top, while second place was split amongst four pieces: Harry Bryant’s Bio Haz, Jaleesa Vincent’s Eerie, Torren Martyn’s Lost Track: Atlantic series (the Stab Premi favorite), and Yago Dora’s Ciclo

Here are a few of our favorite quotes about Sonic Souvenirs from the SSOTY voters:

I was struck with a lightning bolt of culture that shocked me to the core. – Harry Bryant

Kai Neville’s best work since Dear Suburbia and he didn’t even shoot a single frame of it. I gotta give it up for Mikey February and Paul Daniels. A+ wave quality, original music, beautiful footage, and moments of damn near iconic surfing. Mikey is growing into his style. – Jimmy Wilson

I really liked that series. It had great cinematography and editing. – Kolohe Andino 

Best Edit (top 5 edits)

1. Sonic Souvenirs starring Mikey February (6 points)
T2. Eerie by Jaleesa Vincent (4 points)
T2. Ciclo starring Yago Dora (4 point)
T2. Bio Haz starring Harry Bryant (4 points)
T2. Lost Track: Atlantic starring Torren Martyn (4 points)

2021 Best Film 

Reckless Isolation by Kolohe Andino (13 points) 

It was apparent early on that the Best Film would be between Kolohe Andino’s COVID-opus, Reckless Isolation, and Logan “Chucky” Dulien’s high-octane surf flick, Snapt4. While Snapt4 featured the best clips from most of your favorite surfers, Reckless Isolation captured the essence of a dream trip with your best friends surfing perfect, empty, warm-water waves. It was something that could only be done during a time plagued by a pandemic and travel restrictions. The fact that most were stuck at home when the San Clemente crew were scoring untouched perfection made it all the sweeter. Plus, Kolohe funded both the film and the tour himself then took it across the U.S. with Ian Crane, Luke Davis, and Griff and Crosby Cola, handing out free merch to the groms and adult fanboys/girls along the way. It was a labor of love and the boys painted the United States orange. 

Here are a few of our favorite quotes about Reckless Isolation from the SSOTY voters:

They did something we all dream of. The first time Kolohe showed me some of it, it stressed me out. The waves were so good. Great job to those guys for putting together such an awesome project. – John John Florence 

That took me back to the days of old surf films. It was pretty dreamy. It makes you get pumped up to do a surf trip with friends and get perfect waves. – Mikey February 

That was a beautiful film and I love those guys. They came to Florida to do the premiere and it was so fun. – Caroline Marks 

Best Film (top 5 films)

1. Reckless Isolation by Kolohe Andino (13 points)
2. Snapt4 by Logan “Chucky” Dulien (11 points)
3. Everything and All: The Pete Mel Story by Stab x Kyle Buthman (6.5 points)
4. Rainbows in the Rearview by Take Shelter Productions (5 points)
T5. Cadavre Exquis by Lee-Ann Curren (3 points)
T5. Dark Hollow by Dion Agius and Joe G. (3 points)