Shane Dorian

“This barrel was probably the best wave of the year so far,” says Layer. “It might not have been the tallest wave, but sometimes a 20-footer can be much gnarlier than a 40-footer at Jaws. It had a lot of water behind it. We’ve all seen waves like that out there, but it takes a lot of balls to take off really, really deep like Shane did. It looked like a closeout from the channel. It was a full Hail Mary, but he’s the only one who could look at a wave like that and think that it might be makeable. It wasn’t a perfect barrel by any means; it was bumpy and there were chandelier sections. For him to draw a line through all of that on a wave that big and that heavy was pretty next level. I actually thought I was in position for the wave, but I turned and he was literally 100 feet deeper than me. I was like, ‘I got it!’ but he made us all look stupid.” Photo: Aeder

Aaron Gold

“Every time Aaron paddles out at Jaws, he’s really nonchalant, almost like he was expecting something bigger or heavier. But on this day, he was really stoked and seemed like he wanted to be out there more than anyone else. You could just tell he was going to catch the biggest wave of the day. And as soon as he paddled out, he got it. He didn’t make the wave, and usually I think that making the wave should be the most important thing in big-wave surfing, but he made so much of it. He’s the only one who could have caught that kind of wave and you knew he was going to be OK. He’s also the only person who would even consider not pulling the tab on their inflation vest. I think everyone else would have pulled their vest before they even fell on a wave that size. But ever since the very first paddle sessions at Jaws, Aaron’s been out there hunting the biggest waves. It was almost like that wave was meant to be for him.” Photo: Aeder

Kai Lenny

“Kai got this barrel before the start of the Pe’ahi Challenge. It was one of the first waves to kick off the season, and I think it set the tone for the rest of the year. It was really windy that day, which made catching a wave really hard. I watched it from behind, and Kai was really deep and the wave was really big. Honestly, it was one of the most underrated rides all year at Jaws, but I think it was one of the best barrels of the season. This wave kind of shows Kai’s whole approach at Jaws and how committed he is. Every single swell, he catches more waves than anyone and scores some of the best waves. Plus, he probably surfs five hours longer than anyone else.” Photo: Pompermayer

Mark Healey

“So many people send it on the left at Jaws and don’t make it, but I think this was one of the best lefts ever ridden out there. Besides Pedro Calado’s left, Mark’s was one of the biggest lefts I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t an easy ride, either. He took off and then went around two full sections. On the left, the risk-to-reward ratio is just a little more imbalanced. It’s much riskier and it’s way harder to get one of those great waves, but those waves are still out there. Mark showed the potential of the Jaws left and how people can ride it well.” Photo: Pompermayer

Ian Walsh

“I think this wave, where he airdropped out of the barrel, is kind of symbolic of Ian’s entire year. More than anyone else, he’s made an effort to be on every single swell. He’s caught some of the best waves during each session, and this was one of them. He probably got more good waves this year than most people do in five years, and I think it has a lot to do with his headspace. I think that in big-wave surfing, when you have a bad session, you’re more likely to have a bad session the next time, and vice versa. Performance snowballs like that. This year, each of Ian’s sessions was better than the one before.”
Photo: Pompermayer