World Surf League

On Sunday, December 6, 2015 history was made at Jaws (also known as Pe'ahi) on the Island of Maui. The first-ever paddle-in surf contest was held at Jaws in 40-60-foot faces for the first Pe'ahi Challenge. For many years Jaws was strictly a tow-in wave, but that's been changing over the last couple of winters.

With his victory, big wave charger Billy Kemper forever ties himself to Jaws and his uncanny ability to be in-tune with everything the spot can dish out. It was a historic day at Jaws that'll go day in big wave infamy. Check out some of the highlights below.

At 43 years of age Kelly Slater is still one of the most relevant surfers on the face of the planet. Aside from having 11 world titles and just about every other record in professional surfing, he is still throwing some of the biggest maneuvers year-in and year-out on the WSL.

Point-in-case, this weekend at Lower Trestles Slater "landed" this impossible air reverse after he lost his board mid-air. We figured it'd be a good time to take a look back at some of the greatest airs Kelly has ever landed with a jersey on.

thumbnail courtesy WSL / Rowland

Mick Fanning was already a legend in the surf world before fighting off a great white shark at the JBay Open. Now, he is a legend of human history for being at the center of the most widely documented shark attack ever.

As the Internet will do, it created memes. So here's our 15 favorites and here's a raised beer in honor of Mick Fanning still being with us today.

What a wild and lucky Sunday it was at Jeffrey's Bay in South Africa. Not only the entire surfing world, but also the entire world itself is now well aware of Mick Fanning's fighting off a great white during the final of the JBay Open and coming away physically unscathed.

If not for Fanning's quick instincts to do exactly what he needed to, and the speedy response by the Water Safety team, this would be a much harder story to digest. Easily the most witnessed shark attack in the history of human existence, Mick Fanning is clearly counting his stars today.

The World Surf League, Julian Wilson, and Mick Fanning have all decided that it was best to cancel the contest and split the points and winnings. They've felt it was no longer safe and not worth risking things after the luck they had.

Now let us not scream death to all sharks and go on manhunts. Rather, let us realize that sharks exist in their natural habitats and as surfers we will encounter them from time-to-time. In this humble writer's opinion, I do not believe the shark wanted a taste of Mr. Fanning—if he had he would've taken one and no leash (or much of anything really) would've stopped him.

There's going to be lots about this incredibly strange and incredibly fortunate event for time to come. The World Surf League now has the entire world's attention. Where they decide to go with it could shape the future of surfing as we know it.

Take a watch below of the footage again and get the behind-the-scenes of the moments in the aftermath when Mick and Julian Wilson triumphantly returned to shore.

The final nominees have been named for the XXL Big Wave Awards, and they're always a crowd favorite: the Wipeout Award nominees. Seeing big wipeouts are always cringe-inducing, and this year's 5 nominees are some brutal ones. Sporting a menagerie of human-pounding waves, it's tough to decide which one is actually the best (err worst).

Watch all 5 below and let us know which one you think should take the award.