Paige Alms couldn't have been more thrilled about today's conditions at Pe'ahi. "We had our doubts about the forecast but Pe'ahi definitely delivered," she said after clinching her second-straight victory in the elite women's Big Wave Tour event. "I feel so grateful to be able to sit out in an empty lineup at firing, perfect Jaws. It doesn't get much better than that. Every single one of the women today sent it on a bomb. There were big waves out there and I was kind of kicking myself for not going on one set but I just feel super stoked and honored."
Unlike last year, when few challenged Alms' local dominance in the very tough conditions, this year's women's event was much more of a battle. All six women stroked into at least one of the big beasts during the 60-minute Final. Even Felicity Palmateer, suffering from a previous injury, pushed herself over the ledge on a bomb. Brazil's Andrea Moller and California's Bianca Valenti nabbed good rides as well, but it was Keala Kennelly and Justine Dupont who posed the biggest threats.
Kennelly jumped out to an early lead with a beautiful drop in the early going, but she ended up breaking her board in the maelstrom that followed, and had a bit of a tougher time on her replacement equipment. Dupont looked comfortable and confident during all three of her ridden waves. Her practice at Nazaré is clearly paying off, and will make her a much more potent threat in the years to come.
Alms stayed selective throughout the Final, utilizing her local knowledge to take off on two gorgeous looking -- her first two waves of the entire season -- to rack up the winning score. She opened with a nice finished ride that earned her 5.83, then took the lead with a 7.70, which saw her drop into a huge wall then kick out through the roof. Her two rides netted a total of 21.23 out of 30 points for the win, and it's worth noting that those were her first two waves of the entire season at Jaws.
"Anyone that says they're not scared of this place, I think they're lying," continued Alms. "I think it's the most powerful and intimidating big wave anywhere in the world by far. I definitely look up to Ian [Walsh] and I'm super stoked that he won it. We couldn't have asked for anything more -- it definitely put on a show so thanks Pe'ahi!"
2017/18 BWT Women's Pe'ahi Challenge Final Results:
1 - Paige Alms (HAW) 21.23
2 - Keala Kennelly (HAW) 17.21
3 - Justine Dupont (FRA) 14.36
4 - Bianca Valenti (USA) 10.86
5 - Andrea Moller (BRA) 6.41
6 - Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 4.54