The Good, The Bad and the No Shows: Highlights from the 45th Annual Surfer Poll Awards

IMAG0286 The 2015 Surfer Poll and Surf Video Awards capped a big week on the island of Oahu. On Wednesday night, December 3, Quiksilver held a party in Waikiki to celebrate the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational. They had lots of food and drinks outside, good music, and a retail space off to the side featuring the photographs of Bernard Testemale – who photographed some of the world’s best big-wave surfers. The Surfer Poll awards the Top 10 Men and Top Five Women as voted on by the readers of Surfer Magazine. Mixed in with that are the Surfer Video Awards, with nominees in 12 categories for surfing, film-making, environmentalism and more surfing. Sunny is Money Sunny Garcia has admitted to feeling a bit blue these days, and Surfer Magazine did him a solid by asking him to be the lead host for the show, backed up by Dave Wassell and Rosy Hodge. Sunny looked dapper and confident in a suit as he took the stage. He mentioned Evan Geiselman getting hurt at Pipeline earlier in the day and then the insane surfing that went down at Jaws/Pe’ahi at the WSL Big Wave World Tour Event. Then Garcia welcomed retiring pro surfers CJ Hobgood and Fred Patacchia to the stage, with a warning:  “Retirement man. I think retirement is overrated. My advice to you guys: Don’t do it.” Best Short Laura Enever then took the stage and said: “I got told to stand a shaka away from the mic which was pretty aloha.” Then she presented the award for Best Short. The drone shots from Teahupoo du Ciel looked pretty choice, but the award went to Sampler (Marine Layer). Shaka over the falls Big wave charger Sage Erickson came on the present the Worst Wipeout Award, acknowledging all that the men at Jaws went through that day, and also sending best wishes to Evan Geiselman. As the nominees for Worst Wipeout rolled, it was pretty obvious who would win: Niccolo Porcella going over the falls at Teahupoo, waving his arm while stuck in the lip and then getting obliterated. Somehow he did not die, and took the stage looking stoked:  “I don’t know if you guys noticed but I was trying to throw a little shaka in there, as I went over the falls but uh…. Yeah uh, that was pretty heavy.  I think that’s part of the deal when you want to charge and you want to catch some big waves and you want to get barreled you’re gonna have to fall. I guess I don’t want to thank too many people for wiping out.” Andy Irons: Never forget To much applause, Bruce, Lindy and Axel Irons – the son of Andy Irons – took the stage to present the A.I. Breakthrough Performer award to Felipe Toledo, arguably the most innovative surfer in the Brazilian Storm. Bruce Irons introduced Felipe with nice words: My brother never held back… But I want whatever this guy’s got. Felipe Torpedo. The guy is nuts.” Friends we’ve lost Dave Wassell then took the stage to remember Andy Irons and then introduced a montage of names and faces of people of “Friends we’ve lost.” People from the surfing world who had passed on in the previous year: Shawn “Barney” Barron, Mike Tabeling, Alan Rich, Peter Daniels, Wally Froiseth, Ricardo dos Santos. Movie of the year Sunny Garcia congratulated all the nominees for great filmmaking and incredible surfing. “Watching guys like John John and Gabriel and geez everyone on tour pretty much. A lot of good surfing. Just want to say they’re all pretty incredible and there isn’t a loser here.” The award went to the John Florence movie, View From a Blue Moon, and Florence had to walk all the way up to the stage with Eric Knudson, who made the movie and made the acceptance speech. Smart phoning it in Dave Wassel was standing with Sunny Garcia when he said: “I’m guessing the next two winners are not only the most popular surfers in the world, but the best surfers in the world. We’ll give out #2 first. Let’s just guess. I believe #2 is Kelly Slater.” Kelly Slater sent in his acceptance speech by the miracle of Internet communications. John is on Then Sunny introduced the #1 Surfer Poll man: “I’ve been watching him as a kid, I think I saw him at 10 years old, walking down to six to eight foot Backdoor, wondering where his parents were. He paddled out and got some waves.  Proud he is here from Hawaii. John John Florence.” Florence and Slater are two of Mother Nature’s Favorite Sons who love competing with each other, whether it’s out at Teahupoo or on stage. Florence won a Martin guitar as part of his prize package. Florence surfed Pipeline that morning around when Evan Geiselman went down and then spent afternoon on the couch with his friends watching the Peahi event: “It’s just a really gnarly thing. Everyone’s gotta really watch out for each other.  It could happen to anyone. Putting out prayers toward Evan. Everyone watch out for each other. Stay safe this winter. And thank you so much.”