For 36 years now the Australian Surfing Awards have been celebrating the accomplishments of country's brightest talent and ushering its iconic legends into the hall of fame. And while the format may have been different for this iteration, there were still good times to be had as World Champion Stephanie Gilmore and CT rookie Jack Robinson were named Surfers of the Year.
Hosted by WSL commentator Ronnie Blakey and his brother, Vaughan, the awards were live streamed via Surfing Australia's MySurf.TV last week. They featured a special in-person interview with the seven-time champ herself, who offered a revealing statement about her future plans.
"I would love to win eight. Eight's a great number," announced Gilmore. "The Olympics would have taken the priority this year, and that's really what I wanted to focus on the most, but yeah, I think I've got plenty of juice in the tank and I'd love to be able to keep evolving."
Candid, open and honest, Gilmore admitted that the current break in the tour has allowed her to recharge the batteries and refocus. Inspired by the young women that are quickly rising through the ranks, she doesn't appear to have any desire to rest on her laurels at this point in her distinguished career.
"It's the ultimate way to get better, to have younger girls behind you, they're fearless and they just want it as much as you do…they want it more than you," Gilmore explained. "When you're winning titles and you're ticking those boxes you can become a little more relaxed, and I'm very relaxed as it is, so it's important for me to stay on top of things and be like, ‘Those girls are right there and they don't care how many titles you've got.' Maybe they're inspired by you, but they actually want to smash you, so yeah, it's the greatest thing for any athlete to have that competition, that rivalry…that's really when you start achieving things in your career that you surprise yourself with."
Robinson was not on hand for the event and did not offer a video acceptance speech. Vaughn described his performance last year as the one that "captured the imagination of the Australian surfing public."
Other's honored throughout the 45-minute broadcast included Glenn "Micro" Hall, who was named Coach of the Year.
"There's a lot of amazing coaches doing amazing things and pushing the sport, thank you very much" said Hall, who coached Gilmore and Kanoa Igarashi to wins in Bali in 2019.
And saving the best for last, for the final award of the evening legend Jodie Cooper was officially inducted into the Surfing Australia Hall of Fame.
"It's mind-blowing, actually. I think what it tells is a big story, which means I've been around for a long time," Cooper said. "Just to be acknowledged is such a privilege. And to think that my accomplishments mean something to other people too, it's quite humbling, actually."
Congratulations to all of the 2020 honorees.
2020 Australian Surfing Awards Recipients:
MALE SURFER OF THE YEAR Jack Robinson
FEMALE SURFER OF THE YEAR Stephanie Gilmore
FEMALE RISING STAR Molly Picklum
MALE RISING STAR Dakoda Walters
HEAVY WATER AWARD Russell Bierke
ASB GREATER GOOD AWARD Peter Owens, Fight For The Bight Alliance
PETER TROY LIFESTYLE AWARD Rob Bain
COACH OF THE YEAR Glenn Hall
INNOVATION AWARD Chris Friend, LiveHeats
SURF CULTURE AWARD Jed Smith and Vaughan Blakey, "Ain't That Swell" podcast series
SIMON ANDERSON CLUB AWARD North Shore Boardriders Club
NIKON SURF VIDEO OF THE YEAR Andrew Kaineder, Flow State
NIKON SURF PHOTO OF THE YEAR Ren McGann's ‘The Right'