Contests are a little bit weird this year, given COVID and travel restrictions. But some good stuff has come out of the wreckage, like cash-for-clips video contests.
Enter the inaugural Red Bull Magnitude — a big-wave video contest offering a $40,000 prize purse to those waterwomen that perform the best in the largest, heaviest surf hitting the Hawaiian Islands during a three-month window this winter (December 1, 2020-February 28, 2021). Could be Jaws. Could be Waimea. Could be some sketchy outer reef. But it’s gotta be huge (sustained 15-foot Hawaiian minimum) to get a seat at this table.
“This event format gives a new level of opportunity to both established big-wave surfers and the up-and-comers of the sport,” says Maui’s most decorated female big-wave champion Paige Alms. “Without the time constraints of a traditional in-person event, it puts a new emphasis on local knowledge and gives us three months to pick our days and ride the best waves at the best times. With film crews provided for us, it removes the stress of coordinating with shooters and allows us to focus on our surfing.” [Competitors have the option of using their own crew at any Hawaiian break.]
The $40,000 prize purse will be divvied up accordingly: $25,000 for the Overall Performance winner who throws down the most consistent and progressive big-wave performance throughout the waiting period; $5,000 for Runner Up; $5,000 for Best Ride; and $5,000 for Biggest Wave — all of which will be judged by the esteemed panel of Kai Lenny, Mark Healey, Rochelle Ballard and Betty Depolito, who will convene in early March to determine the category winners prior to the March 15th awards ceremony.
“Creating a decentralised contest truly allows a new level of opportunity to all who enter the contest,” says Betty Depolito, who was the first woman to ever surf Pipeline. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the most well-known big-wave surfer or a local ripper that not many people have heard about – you have the same chance to take home $25,000 and make a name for yourself. Running a traditional, in-person big-wave contest has always been difficult under the best circumstances — that has only been made more difficult by current conditions. There are young girls charging right now who have a tremendous opportunity to win this event.”
“The beauty of winter in Hawaii is that on any given swell, there are a handful of breaks that are firing, and it can take a lifetime of surfing here to figure out where and when to strike on each swell,” Rochelle Ballard adds. “This contest provides ultimate freedom for contestants to flex their local knowledge and have the opportunity to ride the best waves at their favourite spots. It’s a true measure of what it means to be a big-wave charger.”
As a bonus, the People’s Choice Award presented by Yeti will remain open to public vote.
Cover shot: Keala Kennelly. North Shore, Outer Reef. December 2, 2020. Pic by: Ha'a Keaulana/Red Bull Content Pool