One year and countless giant waves in the making, the 2021 Red Bull Big Wave Awards went off on Friday, October 29, as the most heroic of performances from around the world were celebrated.

Stealing the show in both the Atlantic and Pacific was France's Justine Dupont, who took home top honor for Performer Of The Year, Ride Of The Year and Biggest Tow categories.

"I think it was my best season so far, so I'm really stoked," said Dupont, who's nominations ranged from Jaws and Mavericks in the Pacific and Nazare in the Atlantic.

"In Nazaré it was one of the biggest swells, it was almost too big. I got a crazy wave with Garrett McNamara who towed me. I went so fast and I could feel the explosion behind me, it was definitely one of the biggest waves I've had out there. At Jaws, I really wanted a big one, because at Nazaré it's left all the time, but at Jaws you can go right. To get a barrel at Jaws is one of the top things to achieve. It was a really special wave. I didn't think I could set this goal for myself this winter, because I thought it would be too big for me, but now I'm really stoked."

2021 Women's Biggest Tow Nominee: Justine Dupont At Jaws
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2021 Women's Biggest Tow Nominee: Justine Dupont At Jaws on January 16. Filmed by Sebastian Tronolone Jr.

Maui's Kai Lenny, who just announced that him and his partner, Molly Payne, are expecting twins, brought home the men's Performer Of The Year award, as well as the Biggest Paddle award for a bomb he was scratched into at Jaws on December 2, 2020.

"I feel over the moon," said Lenny, who led this year's awards with 11 nominations across the four categories.

"I just remember watching all my heroes win Big Wave Awards so for me it's still a big achievement. I'm just trying to keep up and do my best! This award means everything because I want to be the best I can be in every session. I think my entire season was memorable, I had some rides that will forever be ingrained in my brain."

2021 Men's Biggest Paddle Nominee: Kai Lenny At Jaws, Entry 2
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2021 Men's Biggest Paddle Nominee Kai Lenny at Jaws on December 2, 2020. Video from Sebastian Tronolone Jr.

In one of the most inspired performances last winter, Santa Cruz pioneer and WSL analyst Peter Mel won the men's Ride Of The Year courtesy of a wave he charged at Mavericks on January 8, 2021.

"I'm ecstatic," said Mel, who at 50 years young has proved that age is nothing more than a number.

"I knew things were rolling, but this is exciting. I've never won a Big Wave Award before. I knew that this wave was special, Mavericks is really important in my life. It's been a long road there and this wave that came to me was a gift. This is dedicated to my family. My parents started their surfshop the same year I was born so surfing has been a part of my life since the very beginning. My mother recently passed away and I dedicate this award to her. She gave me my life, and this is for her."

2021 Men's Ride Of The Year Nominee: Peter Mel At Mavericks
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2021 Men's Ride Of The Year Peter Mel at Mavericks on January 8, 2021. Video from Curt Myers.

And for the Biggest Tow award, it was the always-prepared German Sebastian Steudtner that went the distance on a Nazaré behemoth.

"It was epic, a very special moment," Steudtner described. "I don't think I've ever been that fast on a surfboard before. I just want to thank my team, my partners, and everyone that believes in me and helped me make my dreams come true."

Rounding out the evening's winners was Maui's Paige Alms, who earned the Biggest Paddle award for her bomb at Mexico's Todos Santos on January 11, 2021.

"I'm just so stoked," said Alms. "That was the best wave I got last winter. I was out for half of the season after tearing my hamstring. So I headed down to Mexico with the hopes of scoring one good wave, and I got it. The Biggest Paddle award is one of the hardest ones to win. Paddling is definitely my focus, and I won it last year too, so I'm stoked. I hope to do it again this season!"

The winter of 2021/2022 is already knocking on the door. Stay tuned for more epicness from surfing's final frontiers.

2021 Women's Biggest Paddle Nominee: Paige Alms At Todos Santos
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2021 Women's Biggest Paddle Nominee: Paige Alms At Todos Santos on January 11, 2021. Video From Ryan Craig.

2021 Red Bull Big Wave Winners

Women's Biggest Paddle
1 - Paige Alms at Todos Santos, Mexico on January 11, 2021. Captured by Ryan Craig
2 - Keala Kennelly at Himalayas, Hawaii on December 2, 2020. Captured by Ken Kosada
3 - Justine Dupont at Mavericks, California on December 8, 2020. Captured by Pedro Bala
4 - Bianca Valenti at Mavericks, California on January 12, 2021. Captured by Curt Myers
5 - Justine Dupont at Jaws, Hawaii on January 17, 2021. Captured by Maui Cartel

Men's Biggest Paddle
1 - Kai Lenny at Jaws, Hawaii on December 2, 2020. Captured by Sebastian Tronolone Jr.
2 - Peter Mel at Mavericks, California on January 8, 2021. Captured by Pedro Bala
3 - Billy Kemper at Jaws, Hawaii on December 2, 2020. Captured by  Sebastian Tronolone Jr.
4 - Grant Baker at Mavericks, California on December 11, 2020. Captured by Richard Hallman
5 - Peter Mel  at Mavericks, California on December 8, 2020. Captured by Marcus Chambers

Women's Biggest Tow
1 - Justine Dupont at Jaws, Hawaii on January 16, 2021.  Captured by Sebastian Tronolone Jr.
2 - Maya Gabeira at Nazaré, Portugal on October 29, 2020. Captured by Jorge Leal 
3 - Justine Dupont at Nazaré, Portugal on October 29, 2020. Captured by Above Creators 
4 - Maya Gabeira at Nazaré, Portugal on February 5, 2021. Captured by Luis de Sá 
5 - Justine Dupont at Mavericks, California on January 1, 2021. Captured by Pedro Bala

Men's Biggest Tow
1 - Sebastian Steudtner at Nazaré, Portugal on October 29, 2020. Captured by Jorge Leal
2 - Kai Lenny at Jaws, Hawaii on January 16, 2021. Captured by Marcus Rodrigues
3 - Conor Maguire at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland on October 28, 2020. Captured by Clem McInerney
4 - Sebastian Steudtner at Nazaré, Portugal on October 29, 2020. Captured by Jorge Leal
5 - Lucas "Chumbo" Chianca at Nazaré, Portugal on October 29, 2020. Captured by Pedro Miranda 

Women's Ride Of The Year
1 - Justine Dupont at Jaws, Hawaii on January 16, 2021. Captured by Slater Berosky
2 - Maya Gabeira at Nazaré, Portugal on February 5, 2021. Captured by Cesinha Feliciano
3 - Keala Kennelly at Himalayas, Hawaii on December 2, 2020. Captured by Ken Kosada
4 - Paige Alms at Todos Santos, Mexico on January 11, 2021. Captured by Mike Nulty
5 - Michelle de Bouillons at Nazare, Portugal on February 22, 2021. Captured by Cesinha Feliciano

Men's Ride Of The Year
1 - Peter Mel at Mavericks, California on January 8, 2021. Captured by Curt Myers
2 - Kai Lenny at Jaws, Hawaii on December 2, 2020. Captured by Elliot Leboe
3 - Kai Lenny at Jaws, Hawaii on January 16, 2021. Captured by Marcus Rodrigues
4 - Grant Baker at Mavericks, California on December 11, 2020. Captured by Richard Hallman
5 - Conor Maguire at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland on October 28, 2020. Captured by Clem McInerney

Women's Performer of the Year
1 - Justine Dupont
2 - Maya Gabeira
3 - Paige Alms
4 - Keala Kennelly
5 - Michelle de Bouillons

Men's Performer of the Year
1 - Kai Lenny
2 - Peter Mel
3 - Grant "Twiggy" Baker
4 - Sebastian Steudtner
5 - Conor Maguire

The window for the WSL 2021/2022 Big Wave season will officially open on November 15, 2021 and will run through March 31, 2022. This year's big wave season will feature the Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge presented by Jogos Santa Casa and the Jaws Big Wave Challenge, where each competition will showcase the best of big wave surfing in the tow-in and paddle disciplines, respectively.

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