The kings of big wave surfing have been crowned at the eighth annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards in California. Regarded as the Oscars of big wave surfing, the 2007/08 awards recognize the biggest and heaviest waves ridden and documented over the past twelve months.
Over two thousand surf-stoked fans packed the Grove Theater in Anaheim to witness mind-blowing rides from Chile, Europe, South Africa, Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, California and French Polynesia. In what proved to be one of the best years in big wave surfing history, over 500 images and videos were submitted for judging. The awards are decided by a panel of 250 surfers, selected surf media and big wave aficionados.
Shane Dorian, 35, of Kona Hawaii, scooped top honors by winning the $50,000 Ride Of The Year Award for a wave conquered at Teahupoo, Tahiti during the swell of the year on November 1st 2007. After being towed into what shaped up as one of the rides of the session, Dorian dropped to the base of the heaving slab and caught a slight rail, putting him in a near impossible position. After correcting his mistake in the tube, the natural footer went into a full layback, coming from behind the foam ball to be cartwheeled into the safety of the channel.
“Usually at Teahupoo, you pick your line, set your rail and you normally make it, but that wave was really unique,” said Dorian. “I nearly fell at the start, I nearly fell in the middle and then it clipped me at the end. “It was difficult because I was almost eating it the whole time. To think that I got the Ride of the Year is a huge honor for me, I'm really psyched that Billabong and Monster throw a big deal for it and support all the guys who go out and ride these waves,” he said. “But really, at the end of the day the ride itself is the biggest reward and it's one that I will remember forever.”
It was the skill required to make the wave from the position he was in that gave Dorian the nod over Tahitian Manoa Drollet who rode a wave of similar consequence during the same session. Carlos Burle (Brazil) finished third for a giant ride at Ghost Tree, California, Ian Walsh finished fourth for a Teahupoo bomb and Australian 21-year-old Michael Brennan finished fifth for an insane ride at his local break of Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania. Brazilian videographer Gustavo Camarao won $5000 for capturing the winning Dorian ride.
San Clemente big wave legend Mike Parsons, 43, has officially surfed into the record books for riding a wave judged to be 70ft+ (24m+) to win the Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Award. The feat was performed at Cortes Bank off the Californian coast on January 5th 2008. Judges measured the wave at 70ft but due to the photo cutting off the bottom of the wave they were unable to accurately pin point the exact base of the ride, meaning it is actually somewhat larger. It is the second time Parsons has secured the prestigious Biggest Wave Award after taking out the inaugural title in 2001 for a 66ft wave ridden at the same location.
“I didn't think a session like that could ever happen twice, I mean that day in 2001 where I rode the first winner at Cortes was incredible,” said Parsons. “It feels surreal to say that I rode a 70ft wave, I can't believe it... There have been so many big waves ridden throughout time and when I sit at home I can't believe that I may have ridden the biggest one ever,” he said. “The amazing thing about big wave surfing now is how global it is going. Young guys like Jamie Sterling, Mark Healey and Greg Long are really pushing this sport and taking it to new levels,” he said. Parsons picked up $15,000 and a Honda Aquatrax watercraft for his ride.
Fellow Californian Greg Long featured heavily in the 2008 awards by taking out the $15,000 Monster Paddle In Award and the $5000 Surfline Men's Overall Performance Award. The defending XXL Big Wave Award winner has been supporting his love for big wave surfing without a major sponsor in 2008 and said the $20,000 prize money would allow him to chase a few more swells in coming months: “Surfing big waves has been a passion of mine since I was about 16 years old and the past two years I have been completely obsessive-compulsive about it,” said Long. “It's what I truly love doing, being out in the ocean when it is at its wildest and riding these big waves.”
Tahitian Manoa Drollet, 30, secured the $5000 Monster Tube Ride Award for the same wave he was nominated for in the Ride Of The Year Category at Teahupoo.
Maya Gabeira, 21, took back-to-back titles in the Billabong Girls Best Performance Award after notching up a collection of giant rides in Tahiti, California, Hawaii and Mexico over the past twelve months. Gabeira proved without doubt that she is the world's premiere female big wave surfer. “It is such and honor to be here again, two years in a row,” said Gabeira. “All my friends are here and my mom flew out from Brazil. “To see those waves on the big screen here and listen to everyone scream is such a good feeling.”
The 2007/08 Billabong XXL Awards can be seen on ESPN2 on Friday 29th May at 9:30pm.
BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR AWARD (Surfer prize $50,000 - Video prize $5,000)
1st: Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on November 1, 2007. (Video by Gustavo Camarao)
2nd: Manoa Drollet (Tahiti, French Polynesia) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on November 1, 2007.
3rd: Carlos Burle (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Ghost Tree, California on December 4, 2007.
4th: Ian Walsh (Paia, Hawaii, USA) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on November 1, 2007.
5th: Michael Brennan (Tasmania, Australia) at Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania on January 14, 2008.
WINNER BILLABONG XXL BIGGEST WAVE AWARD (Surfer prize $15,000 - Photo/video prize $4,000)
Mike Parsons (San Clemente, California, USA) at Cortes Bank off California on January 5, 2008.
(Photo by Robert Brown)
WINNER MONSTER PADDLE AWARD (Surfer prize $15,000 - Photo/video prize $4,000)
Greg Long (San Clemente, California, USA) at Todos Santos, Mexico on December 5, 2007
(Photos by Jeff Flindt)
WINNER MONSTER TUBE PHOTO AWARD NOMINEES (Surfer prize $5,000 - Photography prize $2,000)
Manoa Drollet (Tahiti, French Polynesia) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on November 1, 2007.
(Photo by Jeff Flindt)
WINNER BEST MALE OVERALL PERFORMANCE AWARD (Surfer prize $5,000)
Greg Long (San Clemente, California, USA)
WINNER BILLABONG GIRLS BEST PERFORMANCE AWARD (Surfer prize $5,000)
Maya Gabeira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)