Maui surfers deliver another Peahi sweep

Alms defends women’s title, Walsh wins men’s event

Ian Walsh heads to a victory in the men’s division of the Peahi Challenge on Saturday. -- World Surf League photo / TONY HEFF

Paige Alms of Haiku repeated as women’s champion of the Peahi Challenge on Saturday and Ian Walsh of Kuau won the men’s event, extending Maui surfers’ streak of winning every title in the three-year history of the World Surf League Big Wave Tour contest at “Jaws.”

Alms, who won the inaugural Peahi women’s event last year, had a score of 21.23 on Saturday. Kauai’s Keala Kennelly was second in the single-heat contest with a 17.21.

“I feel so grateful to be able to sit out in an empty lineup at firing, perfect Jaws,” Alms said. “It doesn’t get much better than that. Every single one of the women today sent it on a bomb. There were big waves out there and I was kind of kicking myself for not going on one set, but I just feel super stoked and honored.”

Wave faces surpassed 45 feet for the contest.

“Anyone that says they’re not scared of this place, I think they’re lying,” Alms said. “I think it’s the most powerful and intimidating big wave anywhere in the world, by far. I definitely look up to Ian and I’m super stoked that he won it. We couldn’t have asked for anything more — it definitely put on a show, so thanks, Peahi!”

Women’s champion Paige Alms celebrates with runner-up Keala Kennelly. -- World Surf League photo / RICHARD HALLMAN

Walsh posted a 21.67 in the men’s final. Kuau’s Billy Kemper, who won the first two editions of the event, was the runner-up with an 18.57.

“This is a really big honor and I’m stoked that I can follow Billy and keep this thing on Maui,” Walsh said.

Walsh, who posted the top score in Friday’s opening round, narrowly got through the semifinals, finishing third in his heat with a 25.33. Australia’s Ryan Hipwood won the heat with a 26.50, the best score of the contest, and Spreckelsville’s Kai Lenny was second with a 26.31.

“It was an incredible couple days of surfing, some challenging lulls but everyone here surfed really, really well and it was a pleasure to be in the water with them,” Walsh said.

Lenny finished fourth, but remained atop the tour’s season standings. Kemper is second, and Walsh moved up to third.

Billy Kemper, who finished second to Walsh, rides a wave during the semifinals. -- World Surf League photo / TONY HEFF

Lenny won the only other event so far this season, July’s Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico.

The other Maui surfer to advance out of Friday’s heats, Albee Layer of Haiku, was eliminated in the semifinals.



Saturday’s Results

Paige Alms drops in on a Peahi wave. -- World Surf League photo / KEOKI SAGUIBO

At Peahi



1. Paige Alms 21.23, 2. Keala Kennelly 17.21, 3. Justine Dupont 14.36, 4. Bianca Valenti 10.86, 5. Andrea Moller 6.41, 6. Felicity Palmateer 4.54.


Ian Walsh holds his trophy. -- World Surf League photo / RICHARD HALLMAN


1. Ian Walsh 21.67, 2. Billy Kemper 18.57, 3. Makuakai Rothman 18.46, 4. Kai Lenny 18.26, 5. Greg Long 14.67, 6. Ryan Hipwood 6.60.


Heat 1–1. Makuakai Rothman 16.61, 2. Greg Long 13.74, 3. Billy Kemper 11.83, 4. Danilo Couto 11.26, 5. Mark Healey 7.77, 6. Cristian Merello 4.66

Heat 2–1. Ryan Hipwood 26.50, 2. Kai Lenny 26.31, 3. Ian Walsh 25.33, 4. Albee Layer 24.23, 5. Lucas Chianca 22.19, 6. Jamie Mitchell 16.44.