Maui’s Peahi Big Wave Challenge
With a competition like the Big Wave Peahi Challenge, the hard part is eagerly waiting for the competition conditions to be met before the World Surf League (WSL) can give the go ahead to hold the competition. The latest big wave event was officially put on “green alert” starting Wednesday, October 25th when the WSL made their announcement that the anticipated competition could be held Friday the 27th, Saturday the 28th, or both days.
In an interesting choice by Big Wave Tour Commissioner, Mike Parsons, he and his team decided the best way to take advantage of the swell was to split the Peahi Challenge into two grueling days of surf. The decision to do so brought a wave of uncertainty among the competitors who rose at first light to study the swells from their perch atop the cliffs.
Awesome highlight reel of the competition put together by WSL
On day 2, Saturday, Oct. 28, the final day of the competition started at 7am sharp with plenty of eager eyes watching from home. Due to safety concerns, the public could only watch the event via a live stream on the WorldSurfLeague.com. The conditions provided for offshore winds with a shorter swell period that brought more consistent waves in the 25-50 foot range.
Local boy Billy Kemper of Kuau was a strong favorite to win the event for a third time as he won the previous two events in 2015 and 2016. While another local favorite, Paige Alms was hopefully of repeating her 2016 where she won in the inaugural women’s event last year.
Paige Alms of Haiku was able to repeat her feat as the women’s Peahi Challenge Champion, while Ian Walsh of Kuau was crowned the men’s champion. Walsh’s win continued the tradition of a Maui produced men’s champion; so far over the last 3 years, the winner has been a local boy from Maui. Quite possibly, it has something to do with a home field advantage.
POV angle of local boy Kai Lenny charging Jaws via his collaboration with GoPro
On the women’s side, Alms’ score of 21.23 was enough to secure her win; Kauai’s Keala Kennelly place second with with a score of 17.21. Alms was stoked on her win, “I feel so grateful to be able to sit out in an empty lineup at firing, perfect Jaws. Every single one of the women today sent it on a bomb. Anyone that says they’re not scared of this place, I think they’re lying, I think it’s the most powerful and intimidating big wave anywhere in the world, by far. I definitely look up to Ian and I’m super stoked that he won it. We couldn’t have asked for anything more — it definitely put on a show, so thanks, Peahi!”
Ian Walsh finished with a score of a 21.67 in the men’s final. While Billy Kemper, the 2015 and 2016 champion came in second with a score of 18.57. Walsh was ecstatic with his win and honored to be placed in such elite company, “This is a really big honor and I’m stoked that I can follow Billy and keep this thing on Maui. It was an incredible couple days of surfing, some challenging lulls but everyone here surfed really, really well and it was a pleasure to be in the water with them.”
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