Puerto Escondido, Mexico, June 24, 2016.
While the Big Wave Awards (BWAs) are starting to pile up for Currumbin's Jamie Mitchell, his real backstory is something else, and it's not about surfing. It's actually the 10 consecutive victories in the Molokai to Oahu paddleboard race. The annual race is considered the world championship of paddle boarding and requires paddlers to cross one of the roughest stretches of water in the world -- the 32-mile wide Ka'iwi Channel, which runs between the north shore of Molokai, Hawaii, to the South Shore of Oahu.
This performance streak is so incredible that even Kelly Slater, the more decorated pro surfer in history, is reverent when he talks about Mitchell. "Jamie is one of the greatest unknown sportsmen of all time," said Slater, in an interview in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald. "His winning percentage is higher than anyone in any sport ever."
He is one determined cat. "I like winning," Mitchell was quoted in the same article. "I would tell myself, 'I'd rather die than let this or that guy beat me.'"
Mitchell bounced into the big-wave scene with a monstrous paddle-in effort at Belharra, in France, that earned him a Wipeout of the Year nomination at the BWAs in 2014. Pushing the limits, he went on to be nominated for the 2016 Surfline Best Overall Performance Award.
He soon went on to find his place on the Big Wave Tour (BWT) and this ride at the inaugural Puerto Escondido Challenge saw him stand up and be counted. A huge grab-rail drop and a correction saw him pull in high on a gaping Puerto tube to emerge safely for the 10-point ride, which was so justly deserved. There were many classic moments during that event, but this one was a highlight. His move showed skill and fortitude in the heaviest of conditions -- deeming it more than worthy of its Ride of the Year nomination.