The Interviewer Who Is Actually Always More Interesting Than Their Subject Award: Mark Occhilupo
The Occ-Cast is an absolute treasure. Occy has the squarest jaw in human history and the most compelling careers in surfing history. So, inevitably, the best parts of every Occ-Cast is when his guests actually ask him questions. This award is not a knock against his interview subjects by any means, it’s just, man, how can you compete with the Occ?
 

The Best Surf Movie That Wasn't Actually a Surf Movie Award: Drag II
Leave it to a bunch of Aussie bodyboarders and soft-toppers to put out the most radical, no-f–ks-given-whatsoever “surf” film. “Surf” is in quotes because you’ll find nary a clip of anyone standing on foam and fiberglass, but that’s not to say you won’t find incredible performances throughout. Chippa Wilson steals the show, as he tends to, with otherworldly airs on a soft top and some truly inspired stand-up boogie boarding.
 

The Real Talk Award: Albee Layer
Over the past few years, Maui innovator Albee Layer has stirred many a controversy by calling things as he sees them. Most recently, this manifested itself in Layer’s Instagram stories, where he asserted that 2018 Peahi Challenge champ Billy Kemper must have been “blowing” someone in the judge’s booth to get the nod over Kai Lenny in the final. That surely stung for the WSL, for the judges and for Layer’s good friend Kemper, but it also got the entire surf world talking about how big-wave events should be scored—a debate that needed to happen, but perhaps wouldn’t have without a little nudging from someone on the inside like Layer.
 

Stider Wasilewski, working overtime at Surf Ranch.

The Outstanding Achievement in Commentary Award: Strider Wasilewski While Getting Tubed at the Surf Ranch Pro
Sometimes it seems like Strider Wasilewski has the worst job at the WSL. A notorious frother, Wasilewski would presumably be in great pain having to sit in the channel—in spitting distance, really—of some of the world’s best waves. But at the Surf Ranch Pro this year, Wasilewski was able to get in on the action for a change, carving, stalling and commentating halfway down a dreamy artificial peeling. Click here to watch the clip.
 

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The first time I went to J-Bay was 19 years ago. I was just a kid back then. I'd just finished last in a contest in Reunion, turned up at J-Bay with a toothache, but then got my first glimpse of the wave and the pain went away. It was six foot and perfect from Boneyards to Impossibles, I paddled out through the keyhole, caught my first wave and that was it. I was gone. I lost my mind. Next thing I was standing there on stage holding the trophy, not sure what had just happened, but I knew I'd found my second home. This is where it all started for me on tour, and that's why I wanted to be here in J-Bay to let you know that this will be my last year on tour. The Pipe Masters in December will be my last event. The fire just hasn't been there for a while now and I never want to surf without it, so it's time to go look for it somewhere else. The tour has given me so much. So many memories, so many friends, the chance for my kids to see the world, but it's time to move on to the next chapter. That means one last lap of the tour and I can't wait to catch up with a lot of old friends and get a few waves along the way… starting this week at J-Bay.

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The Most Gracious Retirement Announcement Award: Joel Parkinson
Word around the campfire is that Parko, the man behind the most buttery lines in modern competitive surfing and the recently anointed “Author of Australian Style”, knew that this would be his last year on the World Tour after a glorious, nearly-20-year run. But rather than stealing any thunder from longtime pal Mick Fanning, who also announced his retirement this year and surfed his last event at Bells, Parko opted to keep the big news to himself until Fanning’s moment had passed. Parko, the 2012 World Champ, ended up announcing his impending retirement at J-Bay some months after Fanning’s departure. Onya, indeed, Parko!
 

Kelly Slater is apparently peacing out at the end of 2019. Photo by Todd Glaser

The Least Gracious Retirement Announcement Award: Kelly Slater
While some might think it poor form to give a big announcement immediately following a big announcement by one of their peers, Kelly Slater apparently does not. A thunder stealer of note, Slater sat down for an interview with the WSL broadcast team at J-Bay right after Parko’s big announcement, and he couldn’t help but announce his own retirement…at the end of 2019. Yep, that’s our GOAT right there.
 

The Holy Shit They're Indestructible Award: Every Woman in the Jaws Event
Remember that time that the WSL sent the women out to compete at the Peahi Challenge in shifty, mountainous, straight-up-evil-looking waves a the peak of a historically-large swell? And the biblical beatings they took while committing to probably-unmakeable walls of pure carnage? And then how none of them died? A standard trophy might not have been reward enough for Keala Kennelly and co. They should get the metal of honor or something.
 

The Please, No, Enough Is Enough, Don't Make My Gouge My Own Eyes Out Award: Every Wave Pool Edit
In 2015 when the Kelly Slater Wave Co. first revealed their artificial wave at Surf Ranch, it seemed so miraculous it was hard to even comprehend what exactly it was that we were watching. But in 2018, approximately 57,000,000 wave pool edits and several live-streamed contests later, a true miracle would be going a day without seeing an artificial wave clip.
 

The Person Who Probably Should Have Won SURFER Poll But No One Votes For Freesurfers Award: Chippa Wilson
Somewhere between Chippa surfing soft tops to Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and his uber-tech rotations in Octopus’ “Video No. 4”, he became my surfing spirit animal. If he’s not already yours, too, just skip to the 22:53 mark on the video above and bask in the awesomeness.

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The first time I went to J-Bay was 19 years ago. I was just a kid back then. I'd just finished last in a contest in Reunion, turned up at J-Bay with a toothache, but then got my first glimpse of the wave and the pain went away. It was six foot and perfect from Boneyards to Impossibles, I paddled out through the keyhole, caught my first wave and that was it. I was gone. I lost my mind. Next thing I was standing there on stage holding the trophy, not sure what had just happened, but I knew I'd found my second home. This is where it all started for me on tour, and that's why I wanted to be here in J-Bay to let you know that this will be my last year on tour. The Pipe Masters in December will be my last event. The fire just hasn't been there for a while now and I never want to surf without it, so it's time to go look for it somewhere else. The tour has given me so much. So many memories, so many friends, the chance for my kids to see the world, but it's time to move on to the next chapter. That means one last lap of the tour and I can't wait to catch up with a lot of old friends and get a few waves along the way… starting this week at J-Bay.

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The Most Original Ad For Acai Bowls: Michael Rodrigues and Tanner Hendrickson's Fight Video
Earlier this month, the internet was set ablaze by a viral video of Maui boy Tanner Hendrickson and Brazil’s Michael Rodrigues duking it out on a North Shore walking path—apparently the latest escalation in a longstanding beef between the two surfers. Now I’m not saying this happened (although I’m also no saying it didn’t), but perhaps knowing that a fight between the two was likely, and sensing said fight’s viral potential, an agency representing Big Acai paid Rodrigues a handsome sum to carry a bowl of Sambazon into the ring for a strategic bit of product placement. I’m just speculating here, but if they did, then that’s some great, outside the box marketing. Bravo Big Acai!