The Oakley Wave of the Winter is an award given to the surfer who catches the gnarliest wave of the contest period (November – February) at Pipeline on the North Shore of Hawaii. The judging panel selects each month’s top rides who collectively make up the finalists for the grand prize which stands at $25,000. Along with The Oakley Wave of the Winter award, secondary prizes are awarded to the person who successfully films the premier GoPro video clip of the contest period (The GoPro of the Winter) and the surfer who is deemed to be the season’s consistent standout performer (Clif Bar Overall Performance). For the first time in its brief history, the Oakley Wave of the Winter and Clif Bar Overall Performance awards were won by one surfer. None other than the great Kelly Slater.
Given that Hawaii is considered the birthplace of surfing, it’s only natural that the world’s greatest surfers return to Pipeline for the winter. The wave is a legendary reef break with dangerous, yet desirable barreling waves and the shallow waters make the consequences of falling as dire as any in the world and have taken many a top surfer down in a tumbling ball of fury. Despite this the reward far outweighs the risk and many a pro surfer spends the winter in search of that “one wave” which could ultimately earn them $25,000.
Considering the magnitude of Kelly Slater’s career and his dominance of the tour, it’s somewhat surprising to learn that he has never won the Oakley Wave of The Winter award. Kelly scooped the award for a no-handed bomb he landed last December and when asked about the wave, Slater explained,
“That was one of the best waves I’ve ever had out there. I was late on the drop and had to do a big pump to get some speed. I didn’t even grab because I thought the lip was going to explode me off. Somehow the explosion didn’t shoot back up the face and then it shot me out so hard. I was on my toes in the air.”
Here’s a documentary which Oakley put together about this year’s contest period.
You stay classy,