The final list of nominees for the 2015 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Awards have been announced. With over $120,000 in prize money up for grabs this year and the finalists in four of the categories already made public, the Wipeout of the Year, Surfline Best Overall Performance and Women’s Performance award nominees are being revealed today.
Shortlisted surfers include past winners Shane Dorian of Hawaii and Keala Kennelly of Hawaii and Big Wave champions, Makuakai Rothman of Hawaii and Grant Baker of South Africa. Photographs and video of all the nominated rides can be viewed at WorldSurfLeague.com/BigWave.
The overall performance categories are a key part of the WSL Big Wave Awards as they really point out the surfers who were consistently brilliant. Some of the other awards are about pulling off one ride where everything goes right, but these divisions acknowledge the true champions who defined the progression of the sport all year long,” said Bill Sharp, Event Director of the Big Wave Awards.
“Today we are also announcing the Wipeout of the Year candidates,” added Sharp, “which is kind of the other end of the spectrum—the greatest failures of the year. But as long as no one gets hurt, everyone loves a good wipeout and it’s become one of the most popular parts of the event. You don’t have to be an expert in the nuances of big wave performance to understand what is happening when a surfer falls off his board and is confronted by a million gallons of plunging seawater.”
The WSL Big Wave Awards competition window ran from March 20, 2014 until March 20, 2015 with every wave ridden at every big wave break around the world in that period eligible for consideration across seven diverse award categories. The five biggest or best in each of the categories have now been chosen by a panel of judges based on the photographic and video evidence, and the winners will be crowned at a gala awards show at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California on May 1.
In contention for the famed Wipeout of the Year award are six surfers at five different big wave breaks around the year. This accolade honors the most committed — yet least successful — wave of the event window and comes with $2,000 prize for the surfers and $1,000 for the videographer. Among this year’s candidates are Scott Dennis for an extreme wipeout in remote Australia, Marcio Freire for a performance at Jaws, Maui and Billy Kemper in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. Rounding out the top five is Benjamin Sanchis at Nazaré, Portugal and an unusual two-person nomination from Australian Jamie Mitchell and American Chapman Murphy for a unique double wipeout at Maverick’s, California.
Surfer prize $2,000 – Photo/video prize $1,000
Scott Dennis (Bawley Point, New South Wales, Australia) in remote Australia on August 5, 2014 (video by Tyge Landa)
Marcio Freire (Bahia, Brazil) at Jaws, Hawaii, USA on January 21, 2015 (video by Dan Norkunas)
Billy Kemper (Haiku, Hawaii, USA) at Puerto Escondido, Mexico on July 5, 2014 (video by Daniel Nava)
Jamie Mitchell (Gold Coast, Australia) and Chapman Murphy (San Diego, California,USA) at Maverick’s, California, USA on December 20, 2014 (video Alexey Orlov)
Benjamin Sanchis (Hossegor, France) at Nazaré, Portugal on December 11, 2014
The $5,000 Surfline Men’s Best Overall Performance Award goes to the male surfer who not only puts on the greatest number of outstanding performances in the most diverse number of venues, but also demonstrates a high level of excellence in water safety leadership. Perennial finalists Grant “Twiggy” Baker from South Africa and Shane Dorian from Kona, Hawaii are return nominees, along with a trio of Hawaiian-based first-timers including Trevor Carlson from Sunset Beach, Albee Layer of Haiku and 2014/25 WSL Big Wave Tour Champion Makuakai Rothman of Sunset Beach.
Surfline Men’s Best Overall Performance Award
Surfer prize $5,000
Grant Baker (Durban, South Africa)
Trevor Carlson (Sunset Beach, Hawaii, USA)
Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA)
Albee Layer (Haiku, Hawaii, USA)
Makuakai Rothman (Sunset Beach, Hawaii, USA)
Women’s Overall Performance Award is given to the female surfer who delivers the most outstanding performances in the most diverse number of venues as well as showing a high level of excellence in water safety leadership. As with the men’s award both paddle-in and tow-in disciplines are considered and the winner will receive $5,000. This year’s nominees include Hawaiians Keala Kennelly, last year’s award winner from Haleiwa, Haiku’s Paige Alms and Haleiwa’s Emi Erickson. Also nominated are Brazil’s Silvia Nabuco and Jamilah Star from Santa Cruz, USA. Star won the first Women’s Performance Award in 2005 and was victorious again in 2006.
Women’s Performance Award
Surfer prize $5,000
Paige Alms (Haiku, Hawaii, USA)
Emi Erickson (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA)
Keala Kennelly (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA)
Silvia Nabuco (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Jamilah Star (Santa Cruz, California, USA)
Judges will review the nominated rides and the winners will be revealed at the invitation-only WSL Big Wave Awards ceremony at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California on May 1, 2015. The show will be webcast live on WorldSurfLeague.com and a highlight show broadcast on ABC-TV in the US in July and additional networks worldwide.
Throwback to the Worst Wipeouts of 2013: