Big Wave Updates
Big Honor for Maui's Big Wave Champs
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 7 January, 2018 - The Maui County state building reflected sunshine in the morning hours as big wave notables Ian Walsh and Paige Alms embraced against its cement exterior. An official resolution had just taken place on the 8th floor to honor the two for their wins at the 2017 Pe'ahi Challenge, WSL's most recent Big Wave Tour event which took place in October 2017 on their home island.
Their closest family and friends joined in hugs and photos outside, beneath the United States and Hawaiian flags, while congratulating Ian and Paige with ear-to-ear smiles. Handsome Bugga Productions, the team that aids in the smooth operation of the Maui big wave event alongside the WSL, snapped selfies with the athletes and stood by to represent the solidarity of the community
The 2017 Pe‘ahi Challenge has been touted as one of, if not thee, best big wave competition in history. Ideal swell direction and size lined up along the north coast of the Valley Isle and produced some of the most preeminent surf that the public has ever been privy to witness. Thanks to the WSL, Handsome Bugga and the athletes that made the two-day event historical, the Pe‘ahi Challenge familiarized the lore of big wave surfing to the world in a humble, yet very immense way.
Both Paige and Ian are quick to pass any credit along to those who have come before them in the big wave scene. However, the two cannot deny the hand they play in shifting/standardizing paddle surfing for both men and women from the tow-in scene that once dominated the lineup. Through athletes like Ian and Paige, big wave surfing has taken on more than just an extreme sports reputation. It represents camaraderie, family, health, humility and technological advancement.
"I think, more than what the world gets to see, is a lot of hard work that happens behind the scenes," Ian commented, as he addressed the councilmembers. In the background a monitor displayed an image of him knifing down the face of a massive wave at Pe‘ahi. "At the end of the day, what (these) guys do to keep our heads above water is above all else.
[Ian Walsh of Hawaii advances to the semifinals after winning round one heat 3 of the 2017 wsl peahi challenge] Ian used years of experience and calculated expertise to ride the monstrous waves witnessed during the 2017 Pe'ahi Challenge. WSL / Keoki Saguibo
"It's an honor to be standing here today and I really, really appreciate the opportunity to even be here," he continued. "I think that both of these victories, along with the two previous years coming from Billy (Kemper) and Paige, previously, is a strong testament to this beautiful island and the work ethic that you guys and my family have instilled in all of us."
Ahead of the presentation, Rodney Killborn, who heads Handsome Bugga, took to the podium to commend the surfers and their accomplishments within the Maui community. Ian and Paige's upbringing, integrity and heart is what Killborne emphasized, along with well-deserved credit to the surfer who won the very first WSL Pe‘ahi Challenge, Billy Kemper, in 2015. A third-generation Maui native, Kemper now resides on the North Shore of Oahu with his young family, but his roots run deep as does his significance in big wave surfing.
[Billy Kemper at the Pe'ahi Challenge.] Billy, right, outruns a freight train on his way to his second win at Pe'ahi in 2016. WSL / Christa Funk
After an historical victory in 2015, Kemper went on to win back-to-back titles with another powerful performance in 2016. Many believed he was unbeatable for a threepeat, until Ian dominated the competition in 2017 and earned his first Big Wave title, only to keep the trophy on Maui turf for a third consecutive year.
On the women's side, Paige now also holds back-to-back victories at the Pe‘ahi Challenge and made a massive needle-jump for women around the world. A symbol of hard work and total dedication, Paige shares her sentiment with younger generations, encouraging them to pursue their wildest dreams, even when that includes charging 40-foot waves.
"I feel that wining this event is a win for our whole entire community, not just for us," said Paige during the resolution presentation. "I hope it inspires people from all over the world to go out and chase their dreams.
[Paige Alms of Hawaii wins the women's 2017 wsl peahi challenge] An inspiration both in water and on land, Paige continues to break beyond expectations and redefine the big wave realm. WSL / Keoki Saguibo
"There's so many people in my life that put in so much to help me achieve my goals and my dreams, I am so grateful. Thank you, especially the family and friends that are here today. I hope the next generation can see that through hard work and determination, anything is possible."