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World's Best Surfers Honored at Annual WSL Awards

Big Wave Tour Window Officially Closes: Keala Kennelly and Grant 'Twiggy' Baker Earn 2018/2019 BWT Titles - Gold Coast Gala Celebrates 2018 Season

COOLANGATTA, Queensland/AUS (Sunday, March 31, 2019) - The world's best surfers were honored tonight at the World Surf League (WSL) Awards, the event that celebrates the achievements of the 2018 season.

The evening commemorated the newly crowned World Champions across the Championship Tour, Big Wave Tour, Longboard, Pro Junior, Masters, and Grand Masters. Recognition was also delivered to the best performances, most ground-breaking moments, and exciting achievements in surfing over this past year.

2018 WSL World Champions Championship Tour: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA) Big Wave Tour: Keala Kennelly (HAW), Grant ‘Twiggy' Baker (ZAF) Longboard: Soleil Errico (USA), Steven Sawyer (ZAF) Pro Junior: Kirra Pinkerton (USA), Mateus Herdy (BRA) Masters: Layne Beachley (AUS), Dave Macaulay(AUS) Grand Masters: Rob Bain (AUS)

2018 Championship Tour Honors Fan Favorite Award pres. by Breitling: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Gabriel Medina (BRA) Wave of the Year: Carissa Moore (HAW), Gabriel Medina (BRA) Move of the Year: Carissa Moore (HAW), Filipe Toledo (BRA) Heat of the Year: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA) at Beachwaver Maui Pro / Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Conner Coffin (USA) at Billabong Pipe Masters CT Runner-Ups: Lakey Peterson (USA), Julian Wilson (AUS) CT Rookies of the Year: Caroline Marks (USA), Wade Carmichael (AUS)

"It was around September in 2018 that I really understood the power of winning multiple World Titles," said Gilmore on the WSL Awards stage. "You win a lot of World Titles and you start to wonder, ‘What is it worth? Why do I continue to do this? What is it that motivates me to keep going?' And you start to think about the platform that you get, the voice that you get, and the value of the power of sport. To announce equal prize pay for men and women with the WSL was such a proud moment for myself and for all of the women before me, for not only female athletes but women around the world.

"I think that was truly a moment in my year last year that made me fall in love with being a leader, with being the World Champion, with being someone who can use their voice for something much bigger than themselves, and that is really what this trophy represents to me. I am so proud to be a part of such a wonderful group of young women who are following their dreams."

2018/2019 Big Wave Tour Season Closes, Keala Kennelly and Grant ‘Twiggy' Baker Win BWT Titles

Today, Keala Kennelly (HAW) and Grant ‘Twiggy' Baker (ZAF) officially earned the WSL Big Wave Tour (BWT) titles for the 2018/2019 season. Kennelly won the Jaws Challenge at Pe'ahi, Hawaii to capture her first BWT title, while Baker earned his third BWT title with fifth place at the Jaws Challenge and first place at the Nazaré Challenge in Portugal.

"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.

"I needed to dream bigger because when I was 25, I was hiding in the closet, soaked in shame, living in fear, and I hated myself because I did not think you could be World Champion and gay at the same time. I get to be proud of who I am and I get to love myself exactly as I am, not as people would want me to be. And it is my hope that I am going to inspire other LGBT athletes that are suffering in silence to live your truth."

The 2019 WSL Championship Tour season will commence with the Quiksilver Pro and Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast, starting April 3 and run will through April 13, 2019. The events will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com and Facebook.com/WSL. Also, check local listings for coverage from the WSL's broadcast partners.

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