The best way to capture the moment of SURFER Poll is to actually still be in the moment of SURFER Poll. That's why even at 2:24 AM on the "Biggest Night In Surfing," it's already high time to reflect on the trajectory of the evening.
I think this year marked a first in that Kelly Slater, recently voted the greatest surfer of all time by a jury of his peers in SURFER'S Big Issue and winner of 2009's SURFER Poll (again), was not the most photographed attendee of the night. I'd be surprised if Alana Blanchard can still see after the parade of flash bulbs that popped in her face. The attention didn't come without warrant, though. Take a look at some photos from the night.
As far as surprises and potential “Kanye Moments” go, Taj Burrow seemed as astonished as ever to win the Best Maneuver Award. "It's kind of like babies being born," said Taj, "a frontside air happens every second," but that didn't stop the Aussie from taking home top honors in an extremely stacked category.
While Slater won his umpteenth SURFER Poll, Joel Parkinson and his run at the 2009 world title sent him straight to the top of the pack with a second place finish. Not to mention the much-anticipated arrival of the new school: Dane/Jordy finally cracked the top ten.
Smith made a second rendezvous on stage to accept the inaugural SurferMag.com Web Clip of the Year Award. While Tanner Guduaskas and Sebastian Zietz's intricately executed dance-off and the Mad Clips crew's schizophrenia got the crowd laughing, it seems Jordy's "best air ever" resonated best with online voters, making this category an interesting one to follow as it evolves.
Steph Gilmore unseated Sophia Mulanovich for the women's top spot, and just as Dane/Jordy stormed the Men's Category, Alana/Coco stormed the women's poll, breathing some fresh air into the face of women's surfing and even attracting a whole new audience.
In the videos section, Still Filthy took home Movie of the Year honors with its unrestrained surf-thrasher, and Thomas Campbell's The Present garnered the Best Cinematography award with his characteristic artistry.
While the SURFER Poll and Video Awards always punctuates the ASR/Hurley Pro/Surf Industry Bro-Down with a self-congratulating exclamation mark, for some reason it seemed entirely appropriate this year. Fred Patacchia, Sal Masekela, Benji Weatherly, and Matt Beacham kept everyone smiling with witty banter and warranted jabs all night, and unless you were planning on dawn patrolling tomorrow morning (which I assure you very few present tonight are) there was no better place for a surfer to be.