Justine Dupont And Nathan Florence Dominate The Big Wave Challenge
After a three-year absence, big wave awards are again back on the schedule. The name is new (and when a sponsor is found it'll change again), but the concept remains the same - same person at the controls too.
"Big wave surfing once again has a platform where the surfers, the shooters, and the fans can all come together," said event creator Bill Sharp after the inaugural award's night. "I'm beyond stoked at how this first edition came together and how the surfers rallied behind it."
Though a range of surfers had gathered at the ceremony in Nazare, and the nominations included a similar array, the awards were unsuprisingly dominated by Justine Dupont and Nathan Florence.
Dupont picked up trophies for Biggest Wave, Ride or the Year, and Surfer of the Year in the women's categories. Driving those victories was a wave she rode at the Cortes Bank last January while filming for the HBO Documentary Series '100 Foot Wave'. The wave was estimated at 75 feet on the face and will be in contention for a Guinness World Record.
Meanwhile, Florence, who's shown a deft social media touch, grabbed two of the Oscar-style trophies for Ride of the Year and Surfer of the Year. Florence's winning wave, which he took on at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland, was deemed to be the best of the 2022-23 season by a panel of 200 surfing experts who voted by a secret ballot. Florence had a number of waves in contention for the Ride of the Year, including a backdoor barrel at Aileens.
Other winners included a tie in the men's Biggest Wave division where the wave ridden by Nic Von Rupp (Portugal) at Nazaré was deemed to be in the same height range as the one Shaun Walsh (Hawaii) caught at Jaws on Maui.
The Paddle Awards were taken by Chacha Ibarra at Punta de Lobos in his home country of Chile, and Laura Enever who caught a gigantic wave on Oahu's North Shore last January which may end up as another Guinness World Record entry.
Ned Hart from Dunsborough, Western Australia was selected as the Young Gun honouree based on an amazing wave he rode at Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania. Hart was just 16 at the time. Shipsterns also delivered the Wipeout of the Year for Danny Griffiths.
"This is just the very start of something great," said Sharp. "And now that the first awards are in the can we can jump right back into it with the 2023-24 event cycle underway and El Niño expected to produce an epic winter."
Big Wave Challenge Winners
Surfer of the Year:
- Men - Nathan Florence (Hawaii)
- Women - Justine Dupont (France)
Ride of the Year
- Men - Nathan Florence at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland. Video by João Tudella
- Women - Justine Dupont at Cortes Bank. Video by Johnny Decesare & Tucker Wooding
- Men - Chacha Ibarra at Punta Lobos, Chile. Video by Oscar Fredes Rodrigues & Rodrigo Farias.
- Women - Laura Enever at Outer Reef Oahu. Video by Ian Grose, photo by Daniel Russo.
- Men - (TIE) Nic Von Rupp at Nazaré, video by Tim Bonython / Shaun Walsh at Jaws, video by Carlo Carbajal. Photo by Fred Pompermayer
- Women - Justine Dupont at Cortes Bank, video by Johnny Decesare. Photo by Frank Quirarte.
Wipeout of the Year
- Ned Hart (Australia)
Videographer of the Year
- Tim Bonython (Australia)
Contributions to the Sport
- Big Wave Tour founder Gary Linden
- Nazaré Mayor Walter Chicharro