Maui News

Maui Surfers Paige Alms and Kai Lenny Earn Honors at 2021 Red Bull Big Wave Awards

October 29, 2021, 3:06 PM HST
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Kai Lenny at Jaws, Hawaii on Dec. 2, 2020. Captured by Sebastian Tronolone Jr. / via WSL

Hawaiʻi surfers Paige Alms, Kai Lenny and Keala Kennelly staked their claim in the 2021 Red Bull Big Wave Awards. Fellow Hawaii surfer, Billy Kemper earned a third place finish for a big wave paddle at at Peʻahi “Jaws,” on Maui, for a wave caught on Dec. 2, 2020.

The World Surf League announced the winners of the 2021 Red Bull Big Wave Awards, with $350,000 in prize money awarded across four categories for men’s and women’s divisions including: Ride of the Year, Biggest Paddle, Biggest Tow, and Performer of the Year.

VC: WSL

2021 Red Bull Big Wave Award Winners:

Ride of the Year

Women’s Winners
1 – Justine Dupont at Peʻahi “Jaws,” Maui on Jan. 16, 2021. Captured by Slater Berosky. 
2 – Maya Gabeira at Nazaré, Portugal on Feb. 5, 2021. Captured by Cesinha Feliciano.
3 – Keala Kennelly at Himalayas, Hawaiʻi on Dec. 2, 2020. Captured by Ken Kosada.
4 – Paige Alms at Todos Santos, Mexico on Jan. 11, 2021. Captured by Mike Nulty.
5 – Michelle de Bouillons at Nazaré, Portugal on Feb. 22, 2021. Captured by Cesinha Feliciano.

Men’s Winners
1 – Peter Mel at Mavericks, California on Jan. 8, 2021. Captured by Curt Myers.
2 – Kai Lenny at Peʻahi “Jaws,” Maui on Dec. 2, 2020. Captured by Elliot Leboe.
3 – Kai Lenny at Peʻahi “Jaws,” Maui on Jan. 16, 2021. Captured by Marcus Rodrigues.
4 – Grant “Twiggy” Baker at Mavericks, California on Dec. 11, 2020. Captured by Richard Hallman.
5 – Conor Maguire at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland on Oct. 28, 2020. Captured by Clem McInerney.

Biggest Paddle

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Women’s Winners
1 – Paige Alms at Todos Santos, Mexico on Jan. 11, 2021. Captured by Ryan Craig.
2 – Keala Kennelly at Himalayas, Hawaiʻi on Dec. 2, 2020. Captured by Ken Kosada.
3 – Justine Dupont at Mavericks, California on Dec. 8, 2020. Captured by Pedro Bala.
4 – Bianca Valenti at Mavericks, California on Jan. 12, 2021. Captured by Curt Myers.
5 – Justine Dupont at Peʻahi “Jaws,” Maui on Jan. 17, 2021. Captured by Maui Cartel.

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Men’s Winners
1 – Kai Lenny at Peʻahi “Jaws,” Maui on Dec. 2, 2020. Captured by Sebastian Tronolone Jr.
2 – Peter Mel at Mavericks, California on Jan. 8, 2021. Captured by Pedro Bala. 
3 – Billy Kemper at Peʻahi “Jaws,” Maui on Dec. 2, 2020. Captured by  Sebastian Tronolone Jr.
4 – Grant “Twiggy” Baker at Mavericks, California on Dec. 11, 2020. Captured by Richard Hallman.
5 – Peter Mel at Mavericks, California on Dec. 8, 2020. Captured by Marcus Chambers.

Biggest Tow

Women’s Winners
1 – Justine Dupont at Peʻahi “Jaws,” Maui on Jan. 16, 2021.  Captured by Sebastian Tronolone Jr.
2 – Maya Gabeira at Nazaré, Portugal on Oct. 29, 2020. Captured by Jorge Leal. 
3 – Justine Dupont at Nazaré, Portugal on Oct. 29, 2020. Captured by Above Creators. 
4 – Maya Gabeira at Nazaré, Portugal on Feb. 5, 2021. Captured by Luis de Sá. 
5 – Justine Dupont at Mavericks, California on Jan. 1, 2021. Captured by Pedro Bala. 

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Men’s Winners
1 – Sebastian Steudtner at Nazaré, Portugal on Oct. 29, 2020. Captured by Jorge Leal. 
2 – Kai Lenny at Peʻahi “Jaws,” Maui on Jan. 16, 2021. Captured by Marcus Rodrigues. 
3 – Conor Maguire at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland on Oct. 28, 2020. Captured by Clem McInerney. 
4 – Sebastian Steudtner at Nazaré, Portugal on Oct. 29, 2020. Captured by Jorge Leal. 
5 – Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca at Nazaré, Portugal on Oct. 29, 2020. Captured by Pedro Miranda. 

Performer of the Year

Women’s Winners
1 – Justine Dupont
2 – Maya Gabeira
3 – Paige Alms
4 – Keala Kennelly
5 – Michelle de Bouillons

Men’s Winners
1 – Kai Lenny
2 – Peter Mel
3 – Grant “Twiggy” Baker
4 – Sebastian Steudtner
5 – Conor Maguire

VC: WSL

This year’s Red Bull Big Wave Awards received over 600 submissions of big waves captured during the 2020/2021 season. All submitted waves were evaluated by a comprehensive judging panel formed by WSL judges, former pro surfers, big wave specialists, and also by members of the WaveCo Science team.

Paige Alms’ career includes two WSL Big Wave World Titles, as well as earning Big Wave Award nominees each year since 2012 and Performer of the Year in 2018. Alms has three Big Wave competition wins at Jaws (2016, 2017, 2019), and the 33-year-old now adds this year’s Biggest Paddle Award following her incredible wave at Todos Santos, Mexico in January 2021. 

“I’m just so stoked,” Alms told WSL. “That was the best wave I got last winter. I was out for half of the season after tearing my hamstring. So I headed down to Mexico with the hopes of scoring one good wave, and I got it. The Biggest Paddle award is one of the hardest ones to win. Paddling is definitely my focus, and I won it last year too, so I’m stoked. I hope to do it again this season.”

Kai Lenny is considered one of this generation’s ultimate watermen, pushing the boundaries in waves of consequence,” according to the WSL. Lenny now adds Biggest Paddle and Performer of the Year to his list of accolades. The 29-year-old’s big wave prowess continually makes him a threat in every category of the Big Wave Awards and he shows no signs of slowing down. 

“I feel over the moon,” said Lenny. “I just remember watching all my heroes win Big Wave Awards so for me, it’s still a big achievement. I’m just trying to keep up and do my best! This award means everything because I want to be the best I can be in every session. I think my entire season was memorable, I had some rides that will forever be ingrained in my brain.”

The window for the WSL 2021/2022 Big Wave season will officially open on Nov. 15, 2021 and will run through March 31, 2022. This year’s big wave season will feature the Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge presented by Jogos Santa Casa and the Jaws Big Wave Challenge, where each competition will showcase the best of big wave surfing in the tow-in and paddle disciplines, respectively.

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