Stab Magazine | A Night In Honor Of Sunny Garcia, Equal Pay, Grant “Twiggy” Baker And Kai Lenny

A Night In Honor Of Sunny Garcia, Equal Pay, Grant “Twiggy” Baker And Kai Lenny

The happenings at the Big Wave Awards in Redondo Beach.

style // May 4, 2019
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

On stage at the Big Wave Awards, a microphone wasn’t raised without addressing the tragic news that softened the surf world on Monday: the critical condition and hospitalization of 2000 World Champ, Sunny Garcia.

Over this past week, via friends, industry folk, and any casual thumbing of our Instagram feed, the outpouring of love toward the Hawaiian heavyweight has been unmissable. Those with lives touched by Sunny are crying out for him; praying for him; reminiscing publicly on old times; announcing that this is not his time, that he will fight through, wake up and come back stronger than ever.

The conversation at the Big Wave Awards naturally veered toward Sunny. Everyone was pulling for an update on the extent of his uncertain condition, but as far as our knowledge goes, only one thing is clear – Sunny remains on life support.

This brought an air of seriousness to an award ceremony that typically is anything but. And, although awards always drum up controversy (see: the Ride of the Year debate Part one and two), the camaraderie amongst the Big Wave Contingent sits on a cloud above the WCT. Yes, they’re all alphas with blood in their mouths, however, their macro-genre of surfing features constantly staring down the barrel of potential death. They watch over each other and when the awards come to town, they party.

The Big Wave Awards, previously a private, somewhat Gala-like event, this year opened itself to the public. In Redondo Beach, a music festival is set to happen today. There are stages, scaffoldings, VIP areas, and beer gardens, all ready for a crowd of over-and-under-40s to smoke their dope and dance to the likes of Brian Wilson (hopefully playing Pet Sounds), Bob Weir, Willy Nelson, Blues Traveller and more.

The WSL set up the awards in one of the stages on the beach. Electronic music booming, waves crashing, Joe Turpel looking dapper as fuck in a suit; the voice of surf echoing overhead like God or the man who announces to patrons of the Surf Ranch that their wave will arrive in 30 seconds (who is also, presumably, God).

The general admission filed in. They sat on beach chairs and blankets; cold drinks in hand, condensating with the light LA marine layer. Stage left, the VIP section packed anyone with a yellow wristband into a black metal box. Not entirely shoulder to shoulder, but quite crowded. This public test run begs the question if the Big Wave Awards will return to its roots in 2020.

And, with the sweet sound of Joseph Turpel’s audible chocolate, the awards kicked off. First in honor of Sunny Garcia. Second, in honor of equal pay–a subject that would be repeated with a similar vigor to pray for Sunny, at least by the female contingent.

IMG 321815

The calculated Mr Lenny, his film guy, Johnny, his little girl, and just enough awards to hold.


Rachel Summer

For the women, Justine Dupont, Andrea Moller (who took the World Record for biggest wave ridden by a woman), and Keala Kennelly stole the show. Justine with the most awards. Keala banging the equal pay drum and cracking jokes about how hot all of Twiggy’s girlfriends were when she used to stay with him 10-odd years ago. “They were all tens, every single one of them,” proclaimed Miss Kennelly. 

WSL CEO, Sophie Goldschmidt, wore a fabulous red coat that reminded one of the king martian from Mars Attacks. Soph’s British tongue gives surfing a polished feeling — goddamn the Britts are lovely orators.

Last night, it seemed every other person on stage was either Kai Lenny or Twiggy. They dominated the award ceremony. Twiggy had prepared a speech for his first award and by the final (the Ride of the Year) he professed he’d had a few whiskeys and shot off the cuff. He was jovial and cursed occasionally; giving further proof that you can’t provide a South African a microphone without at least one shitfuck, or cunt leaking through the speakers. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

When the awards ended, everyone funneled out. There was an afterparty, but a movie screened first – a somewhat anticlimactic ending to an evening carried by men and women of great bravery.

For who won what and the accompanying waves consult below. 

Men’s Paddle Award: Grant Baker

Women’s Paddle Award World Record: Andrea Moller

Men’s XXL Biggest Wave Award: Kai Lenny

Women’s XXL Biggest Wave Award: Justine Dupont

Men’s Overall Performance Award: Kai Lenny

Hydro Flask Women’s Performance Award: Justine Dupont

Wipeout of the Year Award: Makua Rothman

Ride of the Year: Grant Baker


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