Every year, as a growing cadre of maybe-sane surfers push the limits of big-wave riding, it becomes more and more difficult to determine which five should be in the running for the Heavy Water award. This year, that was especially true. But these five nominees for the 2017 Heavy Water award have spent the last 12 months showing us that the performance bar can still be raised, bigger waves can be paddled into, and more harrowing tubes can be threaded. Ian Walsh shot through one of the best big-wave barrels in history during the Jaws event, Francisco Porcella seemingly chased every single massive swell and rode a true liquid mountain at Nazaré, Kai Lenny won the Puerto Challenge and put on equally impressive performances around the globe, Billy Kemper toyed with Jaws and made a statement in the film “Shadow Company,” and Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca proved that you don’t need to be a household name to paddle out and make a statement in the world’s heaviest waves. We’re very thankful for this group of surfers, testing the limits of what humans can do in unruly surf so the rest of us don’t have to (or at least that’s our excuse).
LUCAS “CHUMBO” CHIANCA: