|Jamie O'Brien Wins '14/'15 Oakley Wave of the Winter
North Shore local awarded $25,000 for impossible Pipeline runner
After what Head Judge Gerry Lopez said required "more consideration than in years past," Jamie O'Brien was surprised with a check for $25,000 at his Pipeline home on Sunday. Wave of the Winter's inaugural victor and JOB's friend/neighbor Kalani Chapman presented the award on behalf of Oakley just a few hundred yards away from where the memorable wave double-spit JOB through multiple sections, ultimately exhaling him onto the Ehukai sandbar.
"I knew it was a real walled up wave," O'Brien said. "At Pipe, when you know you're deep you usually don't make the wave. I was so amazed I made the wave. It's real humbling [to win]."
The WOTW judging panel of Lopez, Pancho Sullivan, Ross Williams and Shawn Briley endured serious deliberation, sifting through hundreds of entries from the four-month contest period. And once the Top 10 were decided, the hyper-critical evaluation continued before the $25,000 prize was granted to O'Brien.
"Jamie O'Brien and Mason Ho each rode waves this season that were so great, so well-ridden and so critical that we really agonized over which one should get the nod," Lopez said. "We went back and forth and, finally, after more consideration than ever in years past, we agreed that Jamie's ride had a bit more time in the tube than Mason's and that's what ultimately tipped the scales."
Thankfully for Ho, his efforts didn't exactly go unnoticed. It was announced last week that he won the Clif Bar Overall Performance Award, which is given to the surfer who demonstrates, more than any other, outstanding skill, commitment to both the sport and community, courage and style while consistently riding the most challenging waves on the North Shore. Ho won $10,000, a year supply of Clif products and also a $10,000 charitable donation which he gave to Sunset Beach Elementary School.
But despite Ho's breakthrough performance at the Banzai, all eyes kept coming back to O'Brien's wave from December 21st -- the day after the Billabong Pipeline Masters waiting period ended.
"Jamie's wave just stood out, and even though some of those other waves were 10s, I could look at it and go, 'Alright, now there's the Wave of the Winter,'" Briley said. "He had to backside pump a few times and make adjustments in the barrel. For a good moment, it was very questionable if he was going to come out. And at Pipeline, those seem to be the ones that stand out -- whether to people watching on the beach or for you personally -- it's those waves that you think you're not going to make. And Jamie's wave was absolutely that."
O'Brien's been recognized twice before as a WOTW finalist, as well as taking the GoPro of the Winter title last year at Backdoor. But now, Jamie adds yet another feather to his cap from the wave he surfs every day. This Wave of the Winter honor sits alongside his many other Pipeline accolades -- a Pipe Masters, Backdoor Shootout and a pair of Volcom Pipe Pro titles.
The winning filmer -- Taitane Araujo -- gets awarded $5,000 for capturing O'Brien's memorable ride.
But one wave does not a winter make. And as is tradition, we spent the entire North Shore season with multiple lenses pointed firmly at all the action at Pipeline, Backdoor and Off-the-Wall, captured the best of the best and then sat down the standouts.