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Maui Surfers Win Big at WSL Big Wave Awards

April 30, 2017, 10:55 AM HST · Updated October 18, 3:21 PM
Nick Ricca · 0 Comments
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Billy Kemper. Photo: WSL

The best big wave surfers in the world swarmed Huntington Beach last night for the WSL Big Wave Awards at the Paseo Hotel. $350,000 in prize money was divided across seven categories, with three of those taken by Maui surfers.

Billy Kemper won Ride of the Year with an incredible wave at Pe’ahi on November 11th. With back to back Pe’ahi Challenge wins, he clearly knows how to perform out there. Kemper told the WSL, “this is a dream come true. First and foremost, I have to thank my beautiful fiancé for supporting me and giving me an amazing life with our children. Next, my sponsors, who have given me a platform to perform like this. I was just a kid from Maui, I had nothing at one point. This is all passion. I love to do this and nothing is going to stop me from this. This is for my mom.”

Paige Alms. Photo: WSL

Paige Alms took the Women’s Best Performance Award after being nominated for it six straight years in a row starting in 2012. Paige’s hard work at multiple jobs to fund her surf trips and career has paid off. Her commitment and passion to the sport led her to this moment. She was also celebrated for her win at the Pe’ahi Challenge, and for becoming the first Women’s Big Wave Champion.

Alms told the WSL, “I am honestly in disbelief. To be among this group of women is just insane. I am super excited to see where they take the tour next year for the women. A huge shout-out to all the women who inspire me to do my best and continue to push the level of women’s surfing and to be a better person, friend, and athlete. I also want to make a shout-out to Maui and everyone watching live.”

Francisco Porcella’s winning ride.

Finally, Francisco Porcella took the Tag Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award for an insane wave at Nazare, Portugal. This is his first ever victory at the awards.

“Thank you to Nazaré for that wave,” Porcella said. “It has been a long time coming to be up here tonight. I’ve been putting in my time and mother nature rewarded me that day with that wave. It is a blessing to be connected with mother nature that way and feel that energy and power. That energy feeds us and makes us feel so alive in that moment. Thank you to my family and support crew.”

These individuals have made Maui so proud. For more information visit http://worldsurfleague.com/bigwave.

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2017 WSL Big Wave Award Winners:

Billabong Ride of the Year: Billy Kemper
Videographer: Etienne Aurelius

Paddle Award: Ben Andrews
Photographer: Fred Pompermayer

TAG Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award: Francisco Porcella
Photographer: Bruno Aleixo

Tube of the Year Award: Shanan Worrall
Photographer: Jamie Scott

TAG Heuer Wipeout of the Year Award: Wilem Banks
Videographer: Curt Myers

Surfline Men’s Overall Performance Award: Jamie Mitchell

Women’s Best Overall Performance Award: Paige Alms

2016/2017 WSL Men’s BWT Champion: Grant Baker
2016/2017 WSL Big Wave Women’s Champion: Paige Alms

Nick Ricca
Nick is a surf photographer, filmmaker, and writer from Maui. He is a contributor to Freesurf Magazine.
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