All Photos: Peter Taras
Oscar Pistorius is a double-amputee sprinter from South Africa. He’s now known for more horrid things (umm, murder) but he was once one of the fastest sprinters in the world and won countless medals to prove it. With two prosthetic legs, Oscar began to break records and compete at a level among world-class sprinters with two perfectly normal legs. In 2012, after a long debate with the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations), Pistorius became the first amputee to ever compete in the Summer Olympics.
Last night, the WSL Big Wave Awards took place. Guys were wearing three piece suits, girls were wearing skin-tight dresses, drinks were flowing, and everybody’s hard work of chasing ungodly-sized waves around the globe had finally gathered the recognition it deserves. A simple nomination for an award is an accomplishment in and of itself.
But there was one kid whose ticket to the awards almost got lost in the mail. His name? Brad Domke – the Floridian skimboarder whose mere nomination into the Ride Of The Year category had caused the surf world to get their panties in such a bunch. It didn’t seem to bother Domke much, though. He arrived at the awards with the demeanor of a Golden Retriever puppy — energetically taking in the sights, the sounds, shaking hands and purely enjoying himself. You couldn’t help but respect the young man’s humble innocence.
So why was everyone so flustered with Domke’s nomination? Well, for one, he was riding a skimboard. Which most people just cannot wrap their head around. In some opinions, this disqualifies him from winning any sort of “surfing” award. But at the end of the day, the wave that Brad caught at Puerto Escondido was massive. And if anyone were to have ridden that wave the way he did, on ANY sort of craft (besides a SUP because we still hate SUPing), it would have been just as impressive. And I’m not saying that Domke deserved to win, but I am saying that he deserves credit where credit is due. So, here, Brad: credit.
The skim seen ’round the world didn’t end up winning. In fact, it finished fifth. Behind Dean Morrison, Gabriel Villaran, and two Shane Dorians — one Shane Dorian ended up winning, and he accepted his award just after one of the greatest speeches ever from Greg Noll. The crowd clapped, Dorian raised his check, and Domke stood on stage with a smile – absorbing every moment next to the best big-wave surfers in the world.
It was reminiscent of Oscar Pistorius in the 2012 Summer Olympics — he didn’t win, but he was there and in the mix. Pistorius had to fight his way to compete in the Olympics just as Brad had to blow minds on his finless chunk of fiberglass just to get a little notoriety. And while XXL skimboaring isn’t a future that this publication wants any part of, it was refreshing to see how Brad reacted to all the negative heat with nothing but a smile. We just hope he doesn’t kill anybody. —Dayton Silva