Kennelly's win at the Jaws Challenge pushed her to the top of the rankings. In 25' to 35' conditions -- she earned an 8.61 in the Final to overthrow Justine Dupont, Paige Alms, Andrea Moller, Emily Erickson and Bianca Valenti.
Kennelly came runner-up last year in Maui against the 2017 Big Wave World Champ, Paige Alms.
"Nobody gets to be a champion without the love and support of so many people so I want to thank everybody that helped me get here," said Kennelly in her acceptance speech. "Now I am part of an elite group of athletes that are literally pushing the limits of what humans are capable of and we are inspiring so many men and women with what we do."
Because conditions never lined up for the Women's Mavericks Challenge -- Kennelly's win at Pe'ahi earned her the Big Wave World Title. The 40-year-old grew up in Kauai and surfed on the Championship Tour in 2001. In 2006, Kennelly left the CT to pursue a different calling and is now a staple on the Big Wave scene - becoming the first woman invited to the Eddie in 2016/2017.
"Congratulations on your World Title," said Deputy Commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer. "I am so psyched to see you win one."
Today's win marks the South African's third Big Wave World Title. His career earned attention in 2003 when he made the Finals at his first-ever big-wave event -- the Red Bull Big Wave Africa at Dungeons, near Cape Town. Since then, he has continued to push the limits, with numerous event wins at venues ranging from Maverick's in California to Punta de Lobos in Chile to Punta Galea in Spain.
"To be the Big Wave Tour Champion means the world to me," Baker said. "I put in a lot of time and effort and it is amazing that it has paid off."
Both Kennelly and Baker will be recognized at the WSL Awards on March 31st on the Gold Coast of Australia.
2018 Women's Big Wave Tour Rankings
- Keala Kennelly
- Andrea Moller
- Emily Erickson
- Paige Alms
- Justine Dupont
- Bianca Valenti
- Isabelle Leonhardt
- Jamilah Star
- Raquel Heckert
- Silvia Nabuco
2018 Men's Big Wave Tour Rankings
- Grant Baker
- Billy Kemper
- Kai Lenny
- Lucas Chianca
- Natxo Gonzalez
- Albee Layer
- Alex Botelho
- Tyler Larronde
- Russell Bierke
- Nathan Florence