On Tuesday, Red Bull announced its winners of the first-ever Red Bull Magnitude event, a season-long, all-female big-wave contest in Hawaii. The event spanned from December through February with Red Bull committing safety personnel and videographer and photographer resources to Waimea Bay, Jaws, and Oahu’s Outer Reefs anytime forecasts called for waves larger than 15-feet Hawaiian. The expert judging panel of Kai Lenny, Mark Healey, Rochelle Ballard, and Betty DePolito crowned Keala Kennelly the Overall Winner, handing her a $25,000 check for her season’s work and another $5,000 for grabbing the biggest wave of the competition: a 35-foot Outer Reef bomb.
“This year will definitely be remembered as a milestone, not solely because you had one of the biggest XXL swells of the decade but also because Red Bull put on a specialty female big-wave event,” Kennelly says. “Magnitude was a great concept that gave women a platform and the much-lacking resources they needed. Having filmers and a jet ski safety team dedicated to us every time the contest would activate gave women big-wave surfers the opportunity to push their limits with more confidence and then have the video footage, not only to use to boost our profiles but also to review and learn from.”
“You’re going to see the progression in women’s big-wave continue after this event,” added Red Bull Magnitude judge Mark Healey. “The performance aspect isn’t that much different from the men. When someone achieves something that’s never been done, five more people do it in the next six months.”
Along with Kennelly, two other athletes were awarded with $5,000 prizes for their performances this winter. Emi Erickson won for Best Ride with a wave caught at Waimea Bay and Makani Adric took the nod for Overall Performance Runner Up as well as the People’s Choice Award, presented by Yeti.
“My specific defining moment this year would have been surfing the swell on January 16,” Adric says. “I think it was such a defininig moment for me because being out there in waves that size just felt unrealistic (until now).”