The IWT Big Wave Challenge 19/20 IWT Big Wave Leader Board:
Camille Juban 56 feet
*video Si Crowther
Robby Naish 56 feet
*photo Erik Aeder
Sarah Hauser 36 feet
*photo Erik Aeder
Marcilio Browne Most Radical Big Wave Rider of All-Time
*video Jace Panebianco

Thanks to our partners:

The First Ever Big Wave Awards for Windsurfing

“It’s been a long held secret that Windsurfers have pioneered the extreme end of big wave riding, with early innovators like Laird Hamilton (USA), Dave Kalama (HI), Robert Teriitehau (FRA) and many others secretly pushing the limits at Pe’ahi. Windsurfers were leading the way with technique and equipment innovation around wind powered access to the biggest waves that led to tow-in surfing, foot-straps, and ultra performance board and fin development directly because of the ability to handle the very high speeds of extreme windsurfing. Until the #IWTBIGWAVE Challenge, these extraordinary big wave rides from the hard core underground windsurfers have gone without any official awards or acknowledgement. It’s been the surfers who have claimed all the media, until now. It’s time everyone discovered that it’s the windsurfers who got us all to this point.”  IWT Director Simeon Glasson

The IWT Big Wave Challenge

To get the best big waves on the planet, this contest uses an online format (Covid-Safe), where riders and image makers enter a photo or video of their biggest wave rides using the hashtag #iwtbigwave on Instagram. An international panel of judges determines the biggest and best for Men, Women, Youth (<20) and now also Masters (45+). There are awards for the ‘all-time best’ and the ‘annual best’. We receive entries of giant waves from all across the planet, but by far the dominant big wave location is Pe’ahi (Jaws) on Maui’s north shore. This is where most of the top big wave riders base themselves to catch the biggest ridable waves from October through to March each year. This is the thunder-dome of windsurfing.

2020/21 IWT Big Wave Challenge
Pe’ahi JAWS window October 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021
#1 Biggest Ride – photo + video categories
#2 Most Radical – photo + video categories
#3 Worst Wipeout – photo + video categories

Categories: All-Time Awards + Annual Awards
Divisions: Men, Women, Youth, Masters

How to Enter:
Riders and image makers enter photos or video of giant wave rides from around the world to the hastag #IWTBigWave, then an international panel of judges determines the biggest and the best. The biggest and most radical wave rides in history awarded and celebrated for the first time.

Annual Awards Night:
April: The #IWTBIGWAVE Awards Night, Paia Town, Maui, Hawaii, USA. This ‘Wave of the Winter’ style media based competition was launched for the first time in January 2019. The first IWT Big Wave Awards were announced on April 10, 2020 for  the all-time biggest (1), the most radical (2) and worst wipeout (3) big wave rides in the history of the sport and of each season. Divisions for 2019/20 were Men, Women and Youth (<20). For 2020/21 we have added a Masters (45+) division.

The Big Wave Surfing Crossover:

Kai Lenny, Mens Journal “I saw the lip and knew I wanted to do a big turn right there. Then when I got up there, the wave pitched out a lot quicker than I anticipated, so I leapt off the lip and relying on my experience in sports like windsurfing, I was able to fly through the air. It felt really big, but at the same time I’m so used to flying through the air that it didn’t feel out of the ordinary. When I landed my feet jammed more into the straps and I kept on riding.”

Kelly Slater @Kai_Lenny at Jaws the other day got me like 😳🙈 Proof that all that cross sports training from windsurfing to kiting is working out.”

Peter Mel, WSL big wave commentary team talking about Kai tow-in riding, “You know what’s crazy too? He used to do that stuff with sailboards right?! The way he approached that lip line was very reminiscent of guys windsurfing up here. That is crazy. to be going that fast and leaving the face… that is 15… 20 feet dropping.”


The 2019/20 inaugural BIG WAVE Awards

The first year saw well over 100 entries. Each one a stunning display of power, skill, and exceptionally brave riding.

We saw entries from across the world, and across the ages. From Ireland, Portugal, France, Spain, Africa, Chile, Peru, Australia, Tahiti, Fiji, New Caledonia, and of course Hawaii. From the 1980’s, 90’s, 2000’s and right up to the first few months of 2020 just before entries closed on March 31 2020, the big waves flowed in.

This first year saw many, but far from all, the great big wave rides across the whole history of our sport emerge to be seen together in one place, for the first time. As years go by we will see more and more extraordinary images emerge, both old and new.

Despite now being online only, without a big party on Maui’s north shore as we had planned, the IWT Big Wave Awards is bringing the windsurfing world together, for some positive inspiration, in an otherwise very difficult time.

We encourage you all to express your appreciation to these winners for the inaugural awards night in 2020, and we want you to put forward more of the best big wave rides for next year’s awards in 2021 (season open now for #iwtbigwave). This is an ongoing discussion, not a full stop, this is a place to start, to unearth and celebrate the best big wave riders in our sport. The legends old and new from all corners of the world. We salute you all.

We submit these winners to you all as a celebration of our sport. As a celebration of the best that we can be. As inspiration for us all now and into the future. As a unifying moment in our sport that allows us all to cheer for these Big Wave Champions!!!