It’s not everyday that a big wave competition gets called off due to big waves (i.e. there was a moral dilemma to keep it running because death was on the table), yet that’s exactly what happened Monday afternoon at Jaws after a few competitors headed back to the boats with injuries. The eventual champion Billy Kemper got knocked out while trying to bust through a 25-foot backdoor barrel.
“I don’t really remember much. I just remember it went really black and fuzzy,” Billy told Stab Magazine. “I think I blacked out for a second. Sean Lopez said he came to grab me and hit me in the head with the ski. I guess I was just laying there, then he came back and grabbed me by my jersey. I came-to on the sled.” Getting knocked out in the water is already terrifying, but having it happen during a giant Jaws session is a straight nightmare. Grant “Twiggy” Baker also sustained some injuries after he got sucked up the back of a heaving tube before disappearing into the cavern.
But just because the contest was postponed, that didn't stop the surfers from staying in the lineup and attacking some Pe’ahi monsters. Due to the building swell and shifting trade winds, most of the surfers reverted to the sleds and turned the day into a tow session. Kai Lenny got what is already being talked about as the Ride of the Year when he airdropped 20 feet coming off a cutback on the lip and then stomped the landing. It was pure insanity. The spectator in me wishes the contest kept going because that would have been an all-time competition ride, but it’s pretty clear commissioner Mike Parsons made the right choice after we learned of some of the injures. Plus we got an extra day of surfing out of it. Watch some of these clips from the comp.