2016 saw the very first Womens Big Wave World Tour, the Pe’ahi Challenge in Hawaii. Local professional surfer Paige Alms took the win in the event and became the very first Womens Big Wave World Champion. We were lucky enough to catch up with Paige outside of her intense year-round training schedule and found out a little more behind our new world champ.
Full name: Paige Alms.
Any nicknames? Not really.
Where are you from?
I was born in Victoria, BC, Canada and moved to Maui when I was 9. I’m not going anywhere! ;)
Do you remember when you first started surfing?
I had my first surf lesson in Australia when I was 9. When we moved to Maui I officially started surfing when I was 10. I remember riding a lot of white water, but not specifically my first wave. I think the first surf contest I ever did was when I was either 10 or 11 at Launiupoko Beach Park. The waves were tiny and I remember hop hop hopping on every little wave. I competed in every local event from there on out and then in the NSSA contests on the outer islands when I was 13/14. I think I was always drawn to bigger waves but my first big wave experience at an outer reef here on Maui was when I was 15. I rode a big 9-0 and was extremely scared, but I caught a few waves and was hooked!
How did you make that transition from smaller to monster waves?
I think it was just a natural progression. People have this misconception that big wave surfers only surf when it’s big. I surf almost every day from knee high waves to Jaws. I love surfing and I love riding all sorts of different boards. I think to be a good big wave surfer you have to be able to surf in all conditions, not just when it is huge and dangerous.
What is your training like and how do you mentally prepare for a big wave session?
I’m in the gym at Deep Relief Peak Performance 4-5 days a week. Samantha Campbell is my trainer and she writes my program based around how my body is feeling, my work schedule and what the surf is doing that week. We work on everything from strength, agility, core, cardio, anything… I love it. I’m addicted to feeling good. I find that I am the most confidence when my body is feeling really strong and fit, I know that I can handle anything that comes my way.
What types of boards do you ride and what type of safety gear do you use in the bigger stuff?
I am pretty fortunate as my boyfriend of ten years, Sean Ordonez shapes all of my boards from my 5’0” little fish boards all the way up to my 10’4” Jaws board. In big waves I am usually riding a 9’4” to a 9’8”. I wear an impact spring suit that helps when hitting the water really hard, plus a Patagonia inflation vest.
Have you ever been in any notably scary situations?
For sure! Almost every big wave session. Being in 20 foot surf is always scary. Being held under for a long time is scary, but trusting in all of your preparation ahead of time gives you the confidence to push through those situations.
Favourite wave spot around the world?
Pe’ahi aka Jaws.
Have you been eyeing off any other big waves around the world?
I’d love the chance to go to all of them. Todos, Mavericks, and El Buoy are probably the top three places I want to go. I’ve been to Mavs a few times and plan on heading over there for a swell soon.
Whats next for the champ?
Lots of training and keeping the ball rolling!