He's the undisputed champion at what's arguably the best big-wave spot on the planet. That's quite a feat, and no coincidence. Kemper rode the same Pyzel gun during this year's event that he did last year, and utilized the same recipe for success that serves him well on every swell at Jaws. With the big win fresh in his mind, we asked Billy to elaborate on what it means for Maui to keep the trophy on the island.
WSL: How does it feel to be the only surfer to claim victory at the Pe'ahi Challenge?
Billy Kemper: It still doesn't really feel real, but in reality it's the best feeling in the world to know that I am still undefeated at the best big wave in the world.
What made this second win special compared to the first?
This win was above and beyond any win in my life due to how much hard work and dedication I have put in over the last couple of months, and also the amount of good waves in the Final that gave everyone a chance to raise the level of high-performance big-wave surfing. It felt amazing to come out on top after a good hour-long battle with the best of the best in my own backyard!
What was your impression of the Women's Championship?
Hats off to all of them; they all sent it and gave it a great effort!
How will Paige Alms' win inspire the girls on Maui and beyond?
Paige works really hard, so to see it all pay off for her is amazing! I think a lot of women will be truly inspired by what she did that day. She was on a whole different level than the other girls out there.
Describe the equipment you rode during the contest.
I'm riding exactly what I've been riding the last couple years at Pe'ahi, which are 9'8 to 10'4 Town and Country boards shaped by Pyzel. They are hands down the most high performance big boards I've ever ridden.
What does the Pe'ahi Challenge mean for Maui and Hawaiians?
It's massive for us. For example, last year I was a local wildcard who went on to win the event which ended up putting me into Title contention and solidifying me a spot on this year's Big Wave Tour. I'm all for the event and it's awesome to see them give us a handful of spots for the locals to perform on that level of a platform.
What's next for you? Are you competing in the Triple Crown?
Yes, now that the Triple Crown of Surfing is on, that's at the top of my food chain. I'm back in the gym and studying the drawing board every day to better myself. It is just the start of winter for me. I had four months of non-stop swell chasing to go and tons of events to compete in. I'm prepared and ready for anything. I'm really excited to see how this winter pans out, as it already started out as a dream come true!
The second event of the Vans Triple Crown, the Vans World Cup of Surfing, kicks off November 25, and the waiting period runs until December 6.