Kemper, Alms claim Big Wave Tour titles

Maui’s Paige Alms (first photo) and Billy Kemper (second photo) compete during the Peahi Challenge in October. World Surf League / Aaron Lynton photos

The Maui News

Maui surfers Paige Alms and Billy Kemper were declared champions of the World Surf League Big Wave Tour on Wednesday.

Alms won her second straight women’s title, with a successful defense of her Peahi Challenge crown in October vaulting her into the rankings lead.

“Winning a world title, let alone two, has been a childhood dream since I can remember,” Alms said in a news release. “I am so honored to be able to win twice and bring the trophy back home to Maui, where it all started for me. It is an amazing feeling to be at the top with these awards and titles, but to be honest, win or lose, I feel like I’m always winning. Being able to do what I do and share that with my friends and family, I’m winning every day. I hope that what I am accomplishing in my career will give hope and inspire the next generation to go after their goals and dreams.”

Kauai’s Keala Kennelly finished second and France’s Justine Dupont was third.

Billy Kemper

Kemper beat out fellow Maui surfers Kai Lenny and Ian Walsh to win his first BWT men’s title. Kemper made the final of all three BWT events this season, including runner-up finishes at Peahi and Nazare.

“Last year, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer,” Kemper said. “Everything I did this year was for my mom and the reality is that this, my goal to become champion, had a time limit to it. I felt like this was my chance and my opportunity. Tomorrow is never promised. It was hard enough leaving my mom for a week for the Nazare Challenge. I basically told myself that it was an all-or-nothing situation. My goal was to have my mom see me as the best I ever was, right now, and I wanted to win this for her. I am so excited to be able to celebrate with my family and share this with my mom. It is truly a blessing and I am so thankful.”

Alms and Kemper will be recognized at the WSL Awards on March 8 in Australia and the Big Wave Awards on April 28 in California.