History is made every year when it comes to big wave surfing, and the XXL Awards are always the perfect way to honor that. The 2015/2016 El Niño winter will certainly take center stage when this year’s final awards are announced, with a number of the major award nominees coming after December 1st, 2015 – four of the five Billabong Ride of the Year nominations, four of the five Paddle Award Nominees, and three TAG Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award nominations, to be exact. For the record, seven of those waves were surfed at Jaws.
But one wave that rolled into our consciousness well before El Niño arrived has made its own mark in the history books. In 2014 Keala Kennelly took the Overall Women’s Performance Award, but this year she’s been nominated for an award with no gender distinction for the Pure Scot Barrel of the Year. It’s the first time in the history of the event that a woman has been nominated in an open gender category thanks to KK’s insane ride at Teahupo’o this past summer.
“This has nothing to do with affirmative action or special divisions,” said Bill Sharp, Event Director of the Big Wave Awards. “She is nominated for the 2016 Pure Scot Barrel of the Year Award because she simply pulled into one of the heaviest waves ever seen. Just look at the photos and no further explanation is required.”
Other notable names in the event’s biggest categories include Shane Dorian, who’s been nominated more than once yet again, Mark Healey, Nathan Florence, and more. Three nominations came from Brock’s Swell, the storm that brought us the ninth running of the Eddie on February 25th, all coming from Jaws. Albee Layer, who stayed on Maui that day rather than competing in the Eddie for his first time, made the most of his day by snagging a Billabong Ride of the Year nod and possibly the deepest barrel we’ve ever seen at Jaws.
Video of each nomination can be found on WSL’s XXL Youtube page. The awards show will take place Saturday, April 23, 2016 at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California.