Yesterday Tracks covered Laurie Towner’s impassioned Instagram post about his lack of a nomination for the WSL Big Wave Award. 

Well, the social media storm has rumbled on with the post generating over 7,500 likes and more than 750 comments. Some of those commentators have been some of the best big wave surfers in the world, all in agreement with Laurie’s sentiment. Unsurprisingly a certain Kelly Slater couldn’t resist weighing in.  

Initially Kelly commented, “Honestly I haven’t even seen the entries to know what I’m talking about. But the Best Big wave guys on Earth were at Cloudbreak and all said this was the raddest ride they’d maybe ever seen.”

Towner however wasn’t keen to let it rest. He responded to Kelly saying he was 100 per cent sure that if Kelly had ridden that same wave it would have been nominated. He said, “It shouldn’t matter who you are and what’s fair is fair and this is blatantly unfair.”

Kelly then came back with a rather random response, invoking Australian tax legislation. “It can’t be unfortunately be both ways. Either your upset or you don’t care,” he said. “Look at it this way if you made $50K in Oz you pay over half that in taxes… A win wouldn’t have proven anything that wasn’t already. Great ride.”  

For the record on the WSL’s website it states that for the Ride Of The Year award, both video and still photo entries need to be submitted to BWA HQ within ten days of each ride where they are evaluated with the biggest and best rides posted to the event website. Now we have to assume that Towner submitted his wave in the appropriate manner and that he hasn’t been excluded on a technicality. 

Back in 2010 Laurie Towner won AU $20 000 for the Biggest Wave in the Oakley/ASL Big Wave Awards.

If it was submitted correctly it would have been judged against other entries by what the WSL call “a veritable academy of respected members of the big wave community, including all Big Wave Award competitors, photographers and videographers and members of the media who cover big wave surfing.” 

Now it’s not exactly clear who are the members of this “veritable academy” but most of the best big wave surfers seem to think Towner’s wave deserved selection. 

“I totally agree it deserves a top 5 no question,” said Grant “Twiggy” Baker whose epic ride in the Jaws contest is the clear favourite to win the award. “I’ve lost many a biggest paddle (award) to guys going straight bru.” 

Mark Healy was also critical of the whole process. “The awards really are meaningless. That’s why I stopped caring about them. I don’t vote on the finalists either because I don’t want to have my name attached to the thing. I’ve just seen it happen for too long.”

Of course at the end of the day the process is a subjective one. Towner clearly has a good case and has a right to feel marginalized. The extent to which commercial interests, or as Towner said, “keeping the corporate wankers happy”, played a part in his omission is impossible to judge. He has however ensured that the process is now being questioned. And the response online has meant that his unique talent in waves of consequence in unquestionable. 

“I wouldn’t change this wave for anyone else’s wave this year if I had the chance even if you were to give me 50 grand on top,” he posted. “There is no better feeling than to successfully paddle a big scary draining wave safely to the channel. To all the up and coming big wave surfers, fuck the big wave awards, do it for yourself no one else!” It’s advice that is worth listening too.