The 2016 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Award nominees have been announced following an historic El Niño winter, which delivered colossal waves and challenged surfers from around the world to push the limits of big wave surfing. The rides in this year’s nominations span across world renowned breaks, from heavy barrels at Teahupoo, Tahiti to monstrous waves at Jaws, Maui. The 2016 nominees demonstrated outstanding performances across a diverse assortment of award categories.
Shortlisted surfers include 2015/16 Big Wave Tour Champion, Greg Long, as well as past Big Wave Award recipients Shane Dorian, Mark Healey, and Keala Kennelly. Kennelly, who received the Overall Women’s Performance Award in 2014, is the first female to be nominated for an open gender category. The nominations also include up-and-comers Nathan Florence and Albee Layer.
“There was a lot of hype around El Niño this year, and as far as the big wave community is concerned, it delivered and then some,” said Bill Sharp, Event Director of the Big Wave Awards. “Not only were there extraordinary episodes of historically large surf, this time around the best surfers were able to handle it as it came and the results speak for themselves. I think anyone who’s been watching thinks there is a big chance records will be set when the results are in.”
“This is a historic day for women’s surfing as it’s the first time a female has been nominated for a unisex Big Wave Award category with Keala Kennelly’s historic tube at Teahupoo,” continued Sharp. “This has nothing to do with affirmative action or special divisions, she is nominated for the 2016 Pure Scot Barrel of the Year Award because she simply pulled into one of the heaviest waves ever seen. Just look at the photos and no further explanation is required.”
The WSL Big Wave Awards competition window ran from March 21, 2015 through March 15, 2016. Every wave ridden at every big wave break around the world in this period was eligible for consideration across seven categories. A panel of judges chose the five best rides in each of the categories based on photographic and video evidence.
The winners will be crowned at a gala awards show at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California on April 23.
This year’s event features over $250,000 in total prize money to be allotted across the categories along with TAG Heuer watches for winners. In addition to the four categories announced today, the popular TAG Heuer Wipeout of the Year, Women’s Performance and Surfline Overall Performance Awards finalists are yet to be revealed and will be announced on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.
The Billabong Ride of the Year is awarded to the surfer who demonstrates the most advanced and committed level of big wave surfing during a successful ride, as judged by available video-footage. While raw size is taken into consideration, it is ultimately the level of performance that is rewarded. The category carries the biggest prize of the Big Wave Awards with $60,000 for the winner, $15,000 for second place, $10,00 for third, $5,000 for fourth and $3,000 for fifth place. The first place videographer will receive $6,000, and second through fifth place videographers will receive $750. The Hawaiian surfers dominated the Billabong Ride of the Year nominations for this category, with all five finalists hailing from the Aloha State. Three of the five nominated rides took place during an epic winter at Jaws, Maui including entries from 2013 Ride of the Year winner Shane Dorian (who has a second nomination in the category from Jaws) and Albee Layer, who took second place at the 2015 Big Wave Tour Pe’ahi Challenge. Tyler Larronde secured a nomination from his massive ride at Maverick’s, California. The remaining nominee, Nathan Florence, earned his selection on a heavy ride at Teahupoo, Tahiti.
BILLABONG RIDE OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES Surfer prizes total $93,000 – Videographer prizes total $9,000 Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on December 6, 2015 (Video by Ryan Moss.) Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on February 10, 2016. (Video by Dan Norkunas.) Nathan Florence (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on May 28, 2015. (Video by Tim Bonython.) Tyler Larronde (Haiku, Hawaii, USA) at Maverick’s, California on February 4, 2016. (Video by Josh Pomer.) Albee Layer (Haiku, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on February 25, 2016. (Video by Elliot Leboe.)
The Paddle Award goes to the surfer who paddles into and successfully rides the biggest wave of the year. The winning surfer will receive $25,000 and the $5,000 will go to the photographer who captured the ride. This year’s nominees showcased an incredible display of big wave surfing with rides at Maverick’s, California from local Ben Andrews and Nicaraguan Manny Resano. Brazilian Pedro Calado and Hawaiian Aaron Gold earned their nominations with giant rides at Jaws. Hawaiian Mark Healey, Big Wave Tour veteran, secured his nomination on a towering left at Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
PADDLE AWARD NOMINEES: Surfer prize $25,000 – Photographer prize $5,000 Ben Andrews (San Francisco, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California on February 4, 2015 (Photos by Fred Pompermayer and Frank Quirarte. Video by Larry Haynes.) Pedro Calado (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on January 15, 2016. (Photos by 808Photo.me, Brent Bielmann, Brian Bielmann, Wangdu Hovey and Tom Servais. Video by Dan Norkunas.) Aaron Gold (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on January 15, 2016. (Photos by 808Photo.me, Brent Bielmann, Brent Broza, Aaron Lynton and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Elliot Leboe.) Mark Healey (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Puerto Escondido, Mexico on May 3, 2015. (Photos by Nikki Brooks, Ben DeCamp, Astrid Fonseca and Edwin Morales. Video by Jaciel Santiago.) Manny Resano (Playa Popoyo, Nicaragua) at Maverick’s, California on December 7, 2015. (Photos by Sachi Cunningham, Benjamin Ginsberg and Frank Quirarte. Video by Rafael Sauro.)
The TAG Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award goes to the surfer who, by any means available, catches and rides the biggest wave of the year. The winner will receive a $20,000 prize, along with a $4,000 TAG Heuer Watch. The photographer of the ride will receive a $5,000 prize. Finalists include rides from Pedro Scooby, Garrett McNamara and Mick Corbett at Nazaré, Portugal across the entry window. Two of the five nominated rides took place on February 25, 2016 at Jaws, Maui including entries from Niccolo Porcella and Yuri Soledade.
TAG HEUER XXL BIGGEST WAVE AWARD NOMINEES: Surfer prize $20,000 – Photographer prize $5,000 Mick Corbett (Perth, WA, Australia) at Nazaré, Portugal on February 19, 2016. (Photo by André Bernardo.)
Garrett McNamara (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Nazaré, Portugal on November 1, 2015.
(Photos by Bruno Aleixo, André Botelho, Vitor Estrelinha, Jorge Figueira and Manuel Ricardo. Video by Timelapse Media.) Niccolo Porcella (Sardegna, Italy) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on February 25, 2016. (Photos by Erik Aeder, Rick Dombrowski, Dooma Photos, Paul Karaolides and Zack Williams. Video by Marcus Rodrigues.) Pedro Scooby (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 27, 2015. (Photos by Bruno Aleixo, Helio Antonio, Vitor Estrelinha, Pedro Miranda and Hugo Silva. Video by André Callado.) Yuri Soledade (Haiku, Maui, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on February 25, 2016. (Photos by Brian Berkowitz, Jimmie Hepp, Elliot Leboe, John Patao and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Elliot Leboe.)
The Pure Scot Barrel of the Year is awarded to the surfer who rides the single most spectacular tubing wave of the year. This award is judged on the impact generated by still photographs. The winner will receive $10,000 and $4,000 will go to the photographer. Greg Long, 2015/16 Big Wave Tour Champion, received a nomination for his heavy tube at the 2015 Pe’ahi Challenge. Keala Kennelly pulled into a massive barrel at Teahupoo, Tahiti to solidify her nomination and make her the first female to be nominated for an open gender category. Mark Mathews received a nomination for his ride at the Australian slab, The Right. Big Wave Tour competitor, Ian Walsh received a nomination for his colossal ride at Jaws. Tom Butler charged Ireland’s Mullaghmore Head and received a nod for his gigantic barrel at the infamous European big-wave break.
PURE SCOT BARREL OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES: Surfer prize $10,000 – Still photography prize $4,000 Tom Butler (Newquay, Cornwall, England) at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland on October 28, 2015. (Photo by Ian Mitchinson.) Keala Kennelly (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on July 22, 2015. (Photos by Kirvan Baldassari, Brent Bielmann, Tim McKenna and Isaac Sokol.) Greg Long (San Clemente, California, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on December 6, 2015. (Photos by Erik Aeder, Kelly Cestari, Richard Hallman, Paul Karaolides and Sofie Louca.) Mark Mathews (Maroubra, New South Wales, Australia) at The Right, Australia on June 26, 2015. (Photo by Jack Sherriffs.) Ian Walsh (Haiku, Maui, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on January 28, 2016. (Photos by Richard Hallman and Aaron Lynton.)
A panel of judges will review the nominated rides and the winners will be revealed at the invitation-only Big Wave Awards on Saturday, April 23, 2016 at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California.
Nominees for the TAG Heuer Wipeout of the Year Award, Women’s Best Overall Performance Award and Surfline Overall Performance Award will be announced Tuesday, March 29, 2016.