Stars turn out for SURFER Poll Awards
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / firstname.lastname@example.org
SURFER magazine, along with the annual Triple Crown of Surfing on Oahu’s North Shore, lured many of the sport’s most competitive, athletic and, in some cases, glamorous surfers to a ballroom at Turtle Bay Resort for the annual SURFER Poll awards on Friday, Dec. 6.
Readers voted for their favorite male and female surfers, choosing Kelly Slater for the 19th year as top men’s wave rider and pulling Kauai’s Alana Blanchard into the top women’s slot for the first time.
Slater, 41, an 11-time ASP World Tour Champion, was on the red carpet and on stage to accept his award. Before the show, he responded to a question about his run at one more ASP World Title.
“I’m thinking about it,” Slater said. “But I don’t really have a lot to think about till I make the finals. We’ll see what happens.
“There are a lot of gifted, great surfers that are going to be hard to beat.”
Slater is currently ranked second worldwide against Australia’s Mick Fanning, 32. The final ranking will depend on the surfers’ performance during the final competition of the Triple Crown, the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons. The Pipe Masters’ holding period begins Sunday, Dec. 8.
For the first time, the awards show recognized a surfer’s “Worst Wipeout” in a film in an award voted for by readers. Awards in eight more video categories, for films released in 2012, were chosen by SURFER magazine staff.
“Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau” was the magazine’s choice for Best Documentary.
“I thought I knew how important surfing was, but it wasn’t until I got to know more about Eddie Aikau and his family that I really understood,” said director Sam George, a former editor at SURFER. “Surfing in Hawaii is a privilege, not a right.”
YOUNG SURFER John John Florence, 21, was runner-up in the readers’ poll and recognized for Best Performance and Movie of the Year in the video categories for his movie “Done,” which Florence co-directed with friend Blake Kueny. Florence also won an award for short film “Begin Again,” filmed on the Oahu’s North Shore and Maui. (See video below.)
Florence attended the event looking sharp, in a well-fitted suit, but had few words each time he took the stage, pronouncing himself “super stoked” for the wins.
The invitation-only event was the SURFER Poll’s 43rd annual awards ceremony, a “celebration of surfing as popular culture.” While nominees, invited guests and media packed the ballroom, hundreds of other surfers and surfing admirers partied outside on the Turtle Bay Resort’s lawn, where video screens were set up to follow the action.
The event began at 7 p.m. with red-carpet arrivals and finished around 11 p.m. Afterward, parties took place at Surfer, The Bar and Kula Grille at the resort.
Each of the top 10 male and top five female surfers chosen in the magazine’s readers’ poll were invited and recognized on Friday. The countdown started on a poignant note with the announcement of the No. 10 male on the list: Andy Irons, who died in 2010.
Irons’ wife, Lyndie, and brother Bruce Irons took the stage together to accept the honor.
“I know he’s so stoked to get this. I know he’s so proud,” said Lyndie Irons, breaking into tears.
“It’s hard seeing him on video still,” she said. “It’s been three years, and it’s still so hard.”
Surfers who couldn’t be at Turtle Bay participated via video. Women’s No. 2 surfer, Sally Fitzgerald, sent greetings from Nova Scotia while dressed in a wetsuit.
The ceremony took on a more serious, political note with the recognition of Kauai’s Dustin Barca, a professional surfer, MMA fighter and environmental activist, with SURFER’s Agent of Change award. The award came with a grant of $10,000 for the nonprofit organization Hawaii Seed.
Barca and Hawaii Seed are seeking to restrain the actions of companies testing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Hawaii.
“As surfers, we’re so close to the aina, it’s our responsibility to give back,” Barca said, to hoots and applause from the audience. “Surfers could be the ones to change the world.”
The list of winners is below. Click here for the complete list of 2013 SURFER Poll Awards nominees.
SURFER Poll Awards 2013
Men’s Top 10
1. Kelly Slater
2. John John Florence
3. Mick Fanning
4. Julian Wilson
5. Dane Reynolds
6. Jordy Smith
7. Joel Parkinson
8. Taj Burrow
9. Gabriel Medina
10. Andy Irons
Women’s Top 5
1. Alana Blanchard
2. Sally Fitzgibbons
3. Carissa Moore
4. Coco Ho
5. Stephanie Gilmore
Andy Irons Breakthrough Performer
Didier Tinhin (“Tropically Yours”)
Peter Craig (“Hallow Week”)
“Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau,” directed by Sam George
“Begin Again,” directed by Blake Kueny and John John Florence
John John Florence (“Done”)
Movie of the Year
“Done,” directed by Blake Kueny and John John Florence