Every December on the North Shore of Oahu, we bring the surf world together to celebrate a year of phenomenal wave riding, and we hand out awards for things like Best Maneuver, Best Barrel and Movie of the Year. This…is not that. Here we have a collection of awards for some of the more obscure achievements in surfing. These award winners may not get to take the stage and bask in the praise of their peers, but they still hold a place in our hearts and they certainly made an interesting mark on 2017.
BEST USE OF FACIAL HAIR IN COMPETITION: WADE CARMICHAEL
Some people think that beards are grown purely for aesthetic purposes. These people clearly have never had a beard of their own. Wade Carmichael has one, and he knows exactly how to use it. Do you think he would have been able to hack and slash wave faces in the Sunset Beach contest like Paul Bunyan swinging an ax into a tree if it weren’t for his hairy face ornament? The answer is no, absolutely not.
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN WSL COMMENTARY: BARTON LYNCH
Barton Lynch is a world champion, an expert in all things related to competitive surfing and a very articulate fellow to boot. All of these things make him a good surf commentator, but they aren’t what make him the best. He earned that distinction at Bell’s Beach this year when he rocked up to the sand in a pair of flip flops with socks, proving once and for all that Lynch plays by no one’s rules but his own. It’s that swagger, that gall, that unparalleled confidence that allows his commentary to transcend the white noise of the booth and become something approaching art.
BEST UNEXPECTED USE OF A STRINGED INSTRUMENT IN HUGE SURF: NUNO SANTOS AT NAZARE
You may have seen someone pluck a ukulele while riding a log through gentle crumblers before, but have you ever seen a musician play gorgeous melodies on a violin while staring down a deadly mountain of water? Of course you haven’t. This is uncharted territory here, and Nuno Santos is one brave explorer. In a few years, perhaps he’ll bring on some apprentices and conduct an entire orchestra at Jaws. Until then, this will remain the high water mark for music played on a wave face.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A WAVE: SURF RANCH
Can you remember the last time you opened Instagram and didn’t see one of your favorite pro surfers enveloped in a mathematically perfect tube in Lemoore, California? Kelly Slater’s wonderland of artificial waves has been consistently pumping out more engrossing surf clips than any natural break in the world. And until we tire of seeing people ride perfect surf (unlikely), it’s probably going to stay that way.
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN AGAINST ONESELF: ALBEE LAYER
Surf culture dictates that we maintain a certain amount of humility, and there’s no shortage of claim shaming when someone gets a little too excited about their last tube or turn. That’s why we’re never surprised when nominees don’t promote their own surfy accomplishments in the lead up to SURFER Awards. But to actively campaign for one of the guys you’re up against? That’s a different story. Albee Layer did just that in the lead up to this year’s SURFER Awards, making a case for his close friend Matt Meola’s wild rotation above. Unfortunately for Layer (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) it was Layer himself who would take top honors in the Best Maneuver category.
BEST USE OF NAIL POLISH: COCO HO AND CRAIG ANDERSON (TIE)
Coco Ho should be no surprise here, as she’s long been touted as the Beyonce of the surf world and therefore her style is forever bold. Ando, however, is a bit unexpected. The top-tier freesurfer has been spotted everywhere from Indo to Portugal rocking nail polish as black as a Robert Smith’s soul. And why the hell not? Chasing perfect waves around the world is pretty gloomy business, after all.
AN 11-YEAR-OLD KID WE’RE WEIRDLY ENVIOUS OF: JACKSON DORIAN
The SURFER staff is made up of grown men and women who have parents of their own, and yet on some level all of us wish that Shane Dorian was our dad. Can you imagine the weekend activities? The bow hunting, the natural and artificial wave riding, the off-the-grid camping? The Dorians look like they’re always having a helluva good time, and we’d love to tag along if only they’d be willing to fill out the paperwork to adopt a few old children.
PERSON WE ALL WISH WE ACTUALLY SURFED LIKE: STEPH GILMORE
Sure, there were a lot of amazing surfers this year that won world titles, put out phenomenal video parts, charged impossibly-large surf and cleaned up at the SURFER Awards. But at the end of the day, we’d still rather surf like Steph than pretty much anyone else. Her style, her poise, her very essence: the aesthetics of it all are beautiful enough to make a Renaissance painter drop to their knees and weep.
BEST HAIRCUT IN SURFING: MIKEY WRIGHT
Mikey Wright doesn’t have a mullet, the mullet has a Mikey Wright, and that’s an important distinction. The wild airs, the ferocious turns and the penchant for cracking VBs are clearly the handiwork of the once celebrated, now scorned ’80s hairstyle. With that mane pulling the strings, there’s no limit to the awesomeness that Wright can achieve.
BEST BLOKES TO SKULL A SCHOONER WITH: THE ENTIRE CAST OF “SCARY GOOD”
This might be the most Australian award in history, so it makes sense that it should go to the cast of the most Australian surf film of the year. If you haven’t seen the flick, it’s a bunch of good ‘ol boys (and girls) getting together in a house to drink a seemingly endless supply of beers, tear the bag out of the nearby waves and get weird in a recording studio to score the whole thing. This crew knows how to have a good time, just try not to get stuck with the tab at the end of the night.
[Editor’s note: “Corndogging” is a satirical column in which we take serious surf issues, dunk ’em in the ocean, and roll them around in the sand for awhile.]