Maui Sports

Maui Surfers Kemper, Alms, Claim 2016 Pe’ahi Challenge

November 11, 2016, 9:43 PM HST
* Updated November 13, 12:18 PM
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By Staff

Determined to defend his title, Maui big-wave surfer Billy Kemper put in two months of preparation for the 2016 World Surf League Big Wave Tour Peʻahi Challenge, and on Friday the Kūʻau resident enjoyed the fruits of his labor.

Kemper claimed his second straight Peʻahi Challenge victory against a stacked men’s field that included a pair of legendary finalist in Greg Long and Grant “Twiggy” Baker.

“I’ve trained so hard for the last eight weeks,” Kemper told “I feel 100% this year and I didn’t last year.

Maui's Billy Kemper roars in victory Friday at the 2016 Pe'ahi Challenge. Photo source WSL.

Maui’s Billy Kemper roars in victory Friday at the 2016 Pe’ahi Challenge. Photo source WSL.

“I’m over the moon and I just surfed with a few of my heroes and pioneers of this sport — Greg (Long) and Twiggy (Grant Baker). I didn’t know I was winning so I just went for it on that last wave. This is what I live for right here. I’ve put a lot of work and effort into this and thank you to everyone that’s ever supported me. And thanks again for putting on such a wonderful event.”

Haʻikū resident Paige Alms became the first ever Women’s Big Wave Tour Champion after winning the first women’s final of the Peʻahi Challenge.

Maui's Paige Alms makes history Friday, claiming the first Pe'ahi Challenge women's title. Photo source WSL.

Maui’s Paige Alms makes history Friday, claiming the first Pe’ahi Challenge women’s title. Photo source WSL.

“I still feel like that was a dream, I can’t quite believe it,” said Alms in “What a blessing to be out there with just a couple of girls, that was very special. The support feels so good and it’s so cool to have all my friends here and do this at home. This has been a dream to have an event for the women here.”

Twelve of the world’s best female big wave surfers made history today by competing in Friday’s maiden women’s event and the first WSL Big Wave Tour event. The conditions were epic and the women’s 60-minute final saw Alms defeat Justine Dupont (FRA) and Felicity Palmateer (AUS).

Finalists Keala Kennelly (HAW), Emily Erickson (HAW) and Laura Enever (AUS) were unable to compete after sustaining injuries in Round 1.

Friday marked Billy Kemper's second straight Pe'ahi Challenge. Photo source WSL.

Friday marked Billy Kemper’s second straight Pe’ahi Challenge. Photo source WSL.

The men’s final saw Kemper take out runner-up Long, Baker, Nic Lamb, Pedro Calado and Will Skudin. After Friday’s event, Kemper moves up nine places to No. 4 on the BWT rankings while Baker retains the ratings lead with only two possible events remaining on the 2016/17 season.

“This year has been totally different for me,” said Kemper in an interview with afterwards. “I’ve never felt this good in my life and I came here to win again and I did. I feels good to win here. I grew up here — this is my back yard and my blood, sweat and tears. It’s a blessing to have a Big Wave event here at home. My hard work and dedication paid off.”

Peʻahi Challenge Men’s Final Results

  1. 1. Billy Kemper (HAW) 29.07

2. Greg Long (USA) 26.69

3. Grant Baker (ZAF) 22.47

4. Nic Lamb (USA) 18.89

5. Pedro Calado (BRA) 18.04

6. Will Skudin (USA) 14.41

Pe’ahi Challenge Men’s Semifinal Results (top three finishers advance to Final):

SF 1: Greg Long (USA) 16.66, Billy Kemper (HAW) 13.97, Grant Baker (ZAF) 13.51, Cristian Merello (CHL) 13.26, Kai Lenny (HAW) 10.36, Josh Kerr (AUS) 8.97.

SF 2: Nic Lamb (USA) 16.41, Pedro Calado (BRA) 12.67, Will Skudin (USA) 10.53, Aaron Gold (HAW) 10.14, Yuri Soledade (HAW) 6.73, Shaun Walsh (HAW) 1.74.

Pe’ahi Challenge Men’s Round 1 Results (top three finisher advance to Semifinals):

Heat 1: Greg Long (USA) 11.66, Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.56, Cristian Merello (CHL) 11.33, Tyler Larronde (HAW) 9.33, Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 6.00, Gabriel Villaran (PER) 1.00.

Heat 2: Billy Kemper (HAW) 18.20, Grant Baker (ZAF) 16.67, Kai Lenny (HAW) 11.60, Ian Walsh (HAW) 9.36, Carlos Burle (BRA) 8.03, Dege O’Connell (HAW) 7.07.

Heat 3: Aaron Gold (HAW) 18.97, Yuri Soledade (HAW) 18.29, Will Skudin (USA) 15.77, Mark Healey (HAW) 12.56, Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 11.53, Albee Layer (HAW) 9.14.

Heat 4: Nic Lamb (USA) 16.96, Shaun Walsh (HAW) 16.83, Pedro Calado (BRA) 14.66, Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.57, Shane Dorian (HAW) 12.27, Francisco Porcella (HAW) 9.73.

WSL BWT Rankings Top Five (following Pe’ahi Challenge):

  1. 1. Grant Baker (ZAF) – 21,180 points

2. Greg Long (USA) – 20,832 points

3. Pedro Calado (BRA) – 14,709 points

4. Billy Kemper (HAW) – 13,589 points

5. Will Skudin (USA) – 11,053 points

Pe’ahi Challenge Women’s Final Results

  1. 1. Paige Alms (HAW) 21.66

2. Justine Dupont (FRA) 10.77

3. Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 1.63

Pe’ahi Challenge Women’s Round 1 Results (top three finishers advance to Final):

Heat 1: Keala Kennelly (HAW) 13.66, Justine Dupont (FRA) 7.59, Emily Erickson (HAW) 2.34, Polly Ralda (GTM) 2.00, Andrea Moller (BRA) 1.40, Silvia Nabuco (BRA) 0.00.

Heat 2: Paige Alms (HAW) 12.34, Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 11.00, Laura Enever (AUS) 2.67, Bianca Valenti (USA) 2.29, Jamilah Star (USA) 1.46, Tammy-Lee Smith (ZAF) 1.06.

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