History Is Made As Jaws Lights Up

12 Nov 2016 1 Share

Paige Alms of Maui takes home the very first women's big wave event, Photo by WSL / Hallman

Paige Alms of Maui takes home the very first women's big wave event, Photo by WSL / Hallman

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The west coast of Maui hosted the Pe'ahai Challenge today with 30-40 feet faces as a roaring NNW swell from the North Pacific brought waves to the infamous break, Jaws.

It wasn't an XXL day at Pe'ahi but the moderate and makeable waves were perfect for the women's inaugural, history making event and for a spectacular show of the ever advancing skill among the men.

The energy of the morning as daylight broke was electric, described the support and event crew. A highly anticipated moment in women's sport and a solid step forward in surfing. It was the day that the women measured equal to the men for the first time in a lineup of heavy waves.

Big wave legend Keala Kennelly took out heat one but also suffered a knee blowout on a bomb set. But we all know there's no taking down Kennelly, she threw shakas to the cameras on her way to hospital along with Emily Erickson who similarly injured her knee; both women secured a finals start but were unable to be cleared to surf.

Two Australian women, Laura Enever and Felicity Palmateer debuted in the second heat of the women's event. Enever gained 'instant big wave street-cred' going for the first wave of the heat that resulted in a nasty wipeout. Despite the wipeout both she and Palmateer made the final, to which Enever couldn't compete after a knee injury sustained during a second wipeout in the heat.

SEE ALSO: Did Albee Layer Surf The Best Ever Barrel At Jaws? 

It was local charger, Paige Alms who dominated the final despite two intense wipeouts herself. Alms stood way in front of Justine Dupont and Felicity Palmateer with 21.66 final score. 

"It feels like a dream, what a blessing to be out there with just a couple of girls." Said Alms in the Channel after her win. "It's so cool to have all my friends on the skis, and it's just so cool having this event here at home, win or lose it was just amazing."

"Today is November 11th and our friend Turtle passed away on this day a couple of years ago and I'm sure he sent me that first wipeout just to tumble me down and make me hungry to get another one, you have to do that to get you moving out there. The last (wipeout) Billy was there with me and called me in and I had to try, I just got too much air under my board but I hope it looked good. I'm so pumped! I hope we get to do this every year and at different spots too, thank you WSL this is big and I'm really stoked!" 

It was historic before they took to the water, but the excitement of Alms' first win and the potential of a huge future for women's big wave surfing was echoed up the bluff as they made their way back to the event site on top of the hill after the final. 

The men's final was tight. 2015/16 tour champion, Greg Long lead the way with a pair of solid 8-point-rides and Grant 'Twiggy' Baker followed just behind for majority of the hour-long final. However, it was Billy Kemper's monster wave pit rewarded with a 10-point-ride and backup of a nine that secured back-to-back wins for the local, Kemper.

"I've trained so hard in the last eight weeks. I feel 100% today, last year I didn't but today I do. My wife and son are up on the cliff and I'm just over the moon." Said Kemper after his win. "I've just surfed with some of my idols out there, Greg Long and Twiggy! This is what I live for right here... I couldn't be more comfortable and so grateful for all the support!"

For the men, there are two more possible events to be run to complete the 2016 tour with Nazare and Todos Santos currently in their waiting period. For the time being, it's Grant 'Twiggy' Baker who sits on top of the leaderboard after this event.

Pe’ahi Challenge Men’s Final Results:

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 Women’s Final Results:

1 - Paige Alms (HAW) 21.66
2 - Justine Dupont (FRA) 10.77
3 - Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 1.63

Pe'ahi Challenge men's champion, Billy Kemper, Photo by WSL / Heff

Pe'ahi Challenge men's champion, Billy Kemper, Photo by WSL / Heff

Felicity Palmateer and Laura Enever wave sharing in heat one, Photo by WSL / Heff

Felicity Palmateer and Laura Enever wave sharing in heat one, Photo by WSL / Heff

Greg Long tries to hold the lead, Photo by WSL / Cestari

Greg Long tries to hold the lead, Photo by WSL / Cestari

Aaron Gold has copped his fair share of wipeouts but nailed this one, Photo by WSL / Heff

Aaron Gold has copped his fair share of wipeouts but nailed this one, Photo by WSL / Heff

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