The finalists for the 2008 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy were announced today, marking the culmination of what is likely the greatest year in big wave surfing history.

After 12 months of amazing conditions from Chile to South Africa to Europe to Tahiti to Hawaii to California to Mexico, over 500 entered images were narrowed down through the votes of the surfers and photographers themselves, producing this year's elite nominations. The winners will be announced on April 11, 2008 at the eighth-annual invitation-only awards gala at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California before 2,000 surf world VIPs.

The top prize in this Oscars of surfing - the Billabong XXL Ride of the Year Award - carries a $50,000 prize for the surfer with the single most amazing performance on a big wave captured on video.

This year three nominees were produced in a single day at Tahiti's legendary Teahupoo break via spectacular barrels ridden by local Manoa Drollet and Hawaiians Shane Dorian and Ian Walsh. Brazilian Carlos Burle was nominated for his tense moment in the curl at Ghost Tree off Pebble Beach, California while young Australian Michael Brennan was acknowledged for his airborne entry into a huge tube at Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania.

The Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Award will likely generate equally huge debate as to which was the tallest face of the year. The notorious Cortes Bank (105 miles off the California coast) lived up to its immense reputation and delivered a pair of storm-borne behemoths to South African Grant "Twiggy" Baker and 2001 XXL winner Mike Parsons of California.

Europe is represented this year by a massive green face ridden by Frenchman Vincent Lartizen at Belharra Reef along the Basque coast, a break which leapt to global XXL prominence when first challenged in 2003.

Also nominated were two waves on a dark day at the ominous Ghost Tree break, one by 2006 winner Brad Gerlach and the other by 2006 nominee Tyler Fox, both of California. One of them will receive $15,000, a Honda Aquatrax watercraft and a HSA rescue sled in honor of their accomplishment.

The Monster Paddle division is as competitive as ever. Although four of the five nominees come from a single epic day at Todos Santos Island, nine miles off the coast of Ensenada, Mexico, the riders hail from all corners of the planet. Up for consideration are Mark Healey of Hawaii, Greg Long of California, Jamie Mitchell of Australia and Rodrigo Resende of Brazil.

Also in the mix is Ben Andrews of San Francisco, California for a treacherous late drop at Maverick's. $15,000 is at stake for the largest wave caught by arm-power alone. The Monster Tube Award features a number of amazing still images of the most stunning barrel moment photographed in the last year. In contention are Manoa Drollet, Raimana Van Bastolaer and Ian Walsh at Teahupoo, Carlos Burle at Ghost Tree and Michael Brennan at Shipstern Bluff.

Nominated for the Surfline Best Overall Performance Award are Greg Long, Garrett McNamara and Jamie Sterling. Up for the Billabong Girls Best Performance Award are Maya Gabeira, Jamiliah Star and Jenny Useldinger.

In all, over $130,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to the world's greatest big wave surfers in this edition of the Billabong XXL Awards presented by Monster Energy. Verizon Wireless is the official communications provider and Honda is the official watercraft of the event. Surfline.com is the exclusive surf forecast of the XXL. The event is sponsored by Surfing Magazine, Hawaiian Airlines and High Surf Accessories.

Watch the shortlist here:

http://mpora.com/videos/Safo75T7q More Surfing Videos >>

For all details about the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards, please see the Billabong XXL website.