With today marking the end of the holding period for the Mavericks Challenge, it brings an end to the 2017/2018 Big Wave Tour season. Which means that Billy Kemper and Paige Alms are the 2017/2018 Men’s and Women’s Big Wave Tour world champions.
For Kemper, it is his first world championship. And one that he swooped out from under his fellow Maui surfer Kai Lenny in the last event, the Nazaré Challenge. Lenny had been atop the rankings since winning the first event of the season (the Puerto Escondido Challenge) back in July 2017.
But Kemper plugged along, finishing runner-up in the next two events, catapulting him into the lead. The Mavericks Challenge was still in play, but after today’s end of the holding period, it is now official that Kemper is world champ.
“I am overwhelmed and excited to be the Men's Big Wave Tour Champion,” Kemper said in a press release from the WSL. “It has been nothing but a blessing to be on this path, and I am so thankful for my family and everyone who has supported me to get here.”
For Alms, this is her second BWT world title in as many years. Alms yet again won the Women’s Pe’ahi Challenge, and with the Mavericks Challenge not running due to lack of necessary swell, it assured Alms would repeat as Women’s BWT champ.
Alms noted disappointment to ASN that Jaws was the only contest to factor in this year, but understands that that’s part of the game when you’re dealing with Mother Nature.
“Last year [her first world title] was the first ever in the history of our sport, so I guess it caught me off guard more than anything,” Alms told ASN. “I didn’t think it would come down to one contest that would decide a world champion [this year].
“It is equally as valued and I feel very grateful for the opportunities that I have been presented, but the first one will be the most special for now, since it was the first for me, but the first ever also.”
Both Kemper and Alms are from Maui, and considering Jaws is their backyard, crowning these two champs makes a lot of sense.
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