Jamie O'Brien has won the O'Neill Wave of the Winter, taking home a hefty $25,000 cash prize. That makes Jamie the first surfer in the comp's decade-long history to win it twice.
Mr O'Brien's winning wave was from November 24, featured an impossibly late drop followed by a technical grab-rail pigdog through a heaving first reef tube, followed by getting blasted out with a firehose of spit. The comp was judged by Gerry Lopez, Pancho Sullivan, Shawn Briley and Shane Dorian.
“I can’t even believe this is happening,” he said. “I’m in awe. I’ve been so nervous for the last month. Thank you so much Surfline [who ran the comp] Shawn Briley, Shane Dorian, Pancho Sullivan — you guys really matter to me and you’re the reason I surf Pipeline.”
“There was an awful lot of good Pipeline this year,” head judge Gerry Lopez said. “And when that happens, we have our work cut out for us. The one thing we did have going was that one surfer really seemed to dominate. Not one or two waves, but a bunch of waves each month — Jamie O’Brien was on fire this year. He’s upped his relationship with the Pipeline and she gave him a lot of great waves. On his winning wave, he had an insane drop, the board’s fishtailing down the face. He pulled in so deep, it was a big gnarly wave and he came out at the end after the spit after spending a lot of time in the tube.”
Meanwhile, to celebrate our tenth year, the 4ocean Wave of the Decade Award was up for grabs— an event that honours the surfer who has ridden the most memorable wave of the past 10 years on the North Shore, which was won by Reef McIntosh.
“I’m blown away completely,” McIntosh said about the win. “But I did ride a unicorn. That wave definitely changed my life and career. It paid for my wedding, so it was kind of a game changer. And I’m a freesurfer, so if I can bag something like that, my sponsors love it. Plus, WOTW was still pretty fresh at the time — I know Kalani won before me — but it was becoming such a cool platform, so that was rad too, getting in on that early.”
Also, there’s the O’Neill Women’s Overall Performance Award — which is given to the female surfer who consistently demonstrates courage, skill and style while riding the most challenging waves on the North Shore. This year, it was unanimous; North Shore local Moana Jones. She takes home $5,000.
Young gent Joao Chianca took home the breakthrough performer award - with five solid entires into the comp, there could only be one winner.
Cover shot, Jamie's winnig wave by CFunk.