It was a wild year, and maybe it's fitting that 2020 provided a bounty of cringeworthy wipeouts. Perhaps it was surfing's masochistic way of dealing with the times, but from Jaws, to Nazaré, to sandier spots like South Straddie and beyond, folks were hucking themselves over the ledge with reckless abandon. Given the statements these beating made and the reverberations they've had around the planet, these are some of the best of the worst:
Epsilon Mega Swell Flexes At Nazaré
A massive storm brewed just in time to slam Nazaré with XXL surf right before Halloween.
"This is the swell I've been waiting for my whole life," said Portuguese charger Nic von Rupp in the lead up to the session.
Von Rupp, along with heavy water masters Kai Lenny, Lucas Chianca, and Sebastian Steudtner were the standouts in the 60- to 80-foot monster surf. Ultimately, the tamed the beast -- but they also paid the price.
Kemper's "Last One" In Morocco
In February, WSL Big Wave Champion Billy Kemper and a crew of surfers were chasing a series swells in Morocco when Kemper suffered a life-threatening wipeout at the very end of his session. To add to it all, COVID was on the rise, and Kemper went through a tireless journey to get home to his family on Maui.
"Whether it's riding big waves, winning world titles, or coming home from work, a family will motivate you and push you more than anything in the world," says Kemper.
Follow Kemper's incredible road to recovery in this 6-part series coming in February 2021.
Kennelly Pays The Cost To Be The Boss At Jaws
Come hell or high water, Keala Kennelly, the big wave icon known for her fearless approach in all conditions, is relentless. Though it was from a Jaws session in December of 2019, the same series of swell continued into January 2020, Billy Kemper scored the Ride of the Year. Here's the terrifying wave that won Kennelly the 2020 Wipeout of the Year win.
Pumping And Thumping At South Straddie
The Countdown Series was the WSL's way of keeping the flame of competitive surf lit given the COVID restrictions around the world. With specialty events in Lemoore, Brazil, France, Portugal and Australia, it gave some of our favorite Championship Tour surfers the opportunity to pull on the jersey and get their feet in the wax again. One of the bright spots was the Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast at South Straddie, where we saw Mikey Wright dominate the field with his forehand barrel riding. We also witnessed some of the heaviest wipeouts with snapped boards, broken leashes, and jerseys getting ripped off surfers' backs. Plus, the waves were so good that commentators insisted it should be the backup spot to Snapper. We'll see about that, in the meantime, here's the hits:
For more open-ocean carnage, head over to the Big Wave Awards.