Jaws Challenge: Keala wins the Women's while the Men get outmuscled

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Swellnet Dispatch

After two heats and a final, mostly filled with carnage and the occasionally made wave, Hawaiian Keala Kennelly was judged winner of the Jaws Challenge.

Of the six finalists, two of the surfers, Justine Dupont and Bianca Valenti, couldn't compete due to injuries sustained in their earlier heats.

Justine Dupont made the final but couldn't compete due to a dislocated shoulder (Hallmann/WSL)

The final was held in a rising swell with no succesful waves made. Rides were scored on commitment. Emily Erickson scored the highest wave but couldn't catch a second wave.

Kennelly, however, wasn't perturbed by a handful of bug-on-the-windscreen wipeouts, plus being caught inside by a clean up set, and took the honours.

Keala Kennelly airdrops during her heat (Hallmann/WSL)

After the Women's final the first heat of the Men's paddled out, with Billy Kemper setting the tone by pulling into a 30ft+ barrel in the first few minutes. He didn't make the wave.

The waves surfed during that heat would outshine most highlight heats, but only one of them was made. At one point no surfers sat on the peak  as they either received medical aid or opted for the inside section.

In a decision reminiscent of Cloudbreak 2012, the BWT Commissioner Mike Parsons postponed the event until tomorrow. "The long period swell is overpowering the reef, "said Parsons.

That it is a big wave event will cause controversy. Further confirmed when Albee Layer succesfully paddled into a wave ten minutes after the event was postponed. Lucas 'Chumbo' Chianca also paddled it but with a bit less success - see below.

The swell is expected to peak this afternoon and be on the decline tomorrow - though still very large.

Much like the aforementioned 2012 event at Cloudbreak, the WSL has decided to keep the cameras running with Kai Lenny, who swapped foam for rope, wrangling a dozen XXXL waves in an hour. See images below.


mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 Tuesday, 27 Nov 2018 at 10:32am

Im going to say what everyone is thinking in todays politically correct world.
Gunna have to call a spade a spade on womens big wave surfing. i sat through 2 heats where half the competitors didn't get a wave, barely a drop was made and one chick made it to the channel after her ride then the world champ was decided by throwing herself over the falls but 0.9 points for ride. Equal pay for equal work? shit these girls should get all the money for the beatings they took but seriously what a joke. Lucky Billy Kemper woke me up again with his first ride and the show began albeit briefly, not sure why they called it off, wsl were happy to let the chick kill themselves but just as the swell started bombing it was too dangerous for the menfolk. Looks like WSL pulled another thundercloud decision to me. Hopefully the swell hangs for tonight.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Tuesday, 27 Nov 2018 at 10:41am

That photo of KK will end up iconic like the shot of Jay Moriarty at Mavericks.

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref Tuesday, 27 Nov 2018 at 3:06pm

It really is something else, that one. So much commitment.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg Tuesday, 27 Nov 2018 at 10:49am

I couldn't believe they stopped it at first but after watching the next hour or so of the tow session live it was obviously the right call.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot Tuesday, 27 Nov 2018 at 5:01pm

Yeah mike hunt you’re right. It was a bit odd seeing the winner crowned without riding a wave.

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 6:09am

They should have run yesterday. I’m not saying there would have been a high percentage of makes, just saying they should have run. It was a mixed reaction from the competitors, which says enough for me. Yesterday I was happy to burn through 30 minutes of data to keep it running in my car driving to spot x, now I’m home on wifi, but I’ve got time to post on here instead. Funny that. I also find the safety argument use as a little weird. A bit like saying we are running today’s F1 behind a safety car, because of the wet track. If you can, catch Billy Kempers post heat interview. Albee is also vocal about his thoughts on the WSL Instagram. I only saw highlights of the tow sesh though. Maybe they need to go to skis like red bull. One thing is for sure, they need to harness the best days

warddy's picture
warddy's picture
warddy Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018 at 5:33pm

Don’t know why they haven’t got a Tow option if things get too big .
That Kai Lenny expression session was epic.
Multiple disciplines seems to be the norm for these guys anyway .
Missed opportunity and yes they need to drop the womens .