Paige Alms (HAW) claimed victory at the World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) Pe’ahi Challenge after a thrilling day of competition in 30-foot-plus surf that saw Alms become the first ever WSL Women’s BWT Champion.
The world’s best female big wave surfers made history as 12 individuals took to the water to compete in a WSL Big Wave Tour event for the first time ever and contest for the maiden women’s title in heavy conditions at Pe’ahi.
The Final saw Alms, Justine Dupont (FRA) and Felicity Palmateer (AUS) take to the water for a 60 minute match-up. Finalists Keala Kennelly (HAW), Emily Erickson (HAW) and Laura Enever (AUS) were unable to compete after sustaining injuries in Round 1. Dupont led the charge, opening her account with a 3.17. Alms was close behind in second place for the opening half of the heat until she found an incredible wave and took off with perfect positioning and was rewarded with 6.00 and the lead. The Hawaiian continued to dominate the heat, putting it all on the line with another impressive ride for a 7.83, one of the day’s top scores. Dupont tried to fight back but it wasn’t enough, and she finished the event as runner-up with Palmateer taking third place.
“I still feel like that was a dream, I can’t quite believe it,” said Alms. “What a blessing to be out there with just a couple of girls, that was very special. The support feels so good and it’s so cool to have all my friends here and do this at home. This has been a dream to have an event for the women here. To have an empty lineup is a real blessing, win or lose. A few of the girls got hurt and I’m bummed that they weren’t out there with us but they’ll be back for more. I hope we get more opportunities so thank you WSL, this was really big.”
Paige Alms (HAW) has become the first ever Women’s Big Wave Tour Champion after taking a commanding victory in the Final of the Pe’ahi Challenge. Photo WSL/Hallman
Kennelly was first to put a score on the board in the opening heat of Women’s Round 1, with a 6.83 and the lead. Kennelly left the lineup for medical attention following after suffering a knee injury. Despite this, Kennelly held on to her first place position. Dupont took second place thanks to a 2.83. With ten minutes remaining Dupont found a backup score on a smaller wave to secure her place in the Final. Erickson also suffered a heavy wipeout early on in the heat and was also forced to withdraw. Silvia Nabuco (BRA) remained scoreless and was eliminated alongside Polly Ralda (GTM) and Andrea Moller (BRA).
Round 1 Heat 2 saw current No. 10 on the WSL Women’s Championship Tour, Enever, dominate the lineup from the start of the heat and was first to attempt a ride. Despite an unsuccessful takeoff she was rewarded with a 0.74 that gave her an early advantage. Enever and Felicity Palmateer (AUS) both committed to the next wave but it was Palmateer who made the drop and earned a 5.50 for second place. Maui local Alms looked in control and at ease and posted a solid 6.17 with her first ride to claim the lead. Bianca Valenti (USA) continued to charge, despite two heavy wipeouts, but wasn’t able to find a score of significance and she finished in fourth place. A late drop from Jamilah Star (USA) moved her up into fifth place but it wasn’t enough to advance to the Final and she was eliminated from the competition alongside Tammy-Lee Smith (ZAF). Alms, Palmateer and Enever moved forward into the Final.
“That was definitely extremely challenging with so much wind,” said Alms. “I surf here all the time and the wind today is very difficult. It throws huge chops at you and puts so much air under your nose so you really have to push. I’m stoked to moved on and make it through. When the WSL announced that they were going run this event we were all ecstatic. To be able to surf my home break with just five other girls is amazing and a monumental moment.”
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 Women’s Round 1 Results (top three finishers advance to Final):