industry news

Paddle-In Rides Lead the Historic Action as Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards Reach 2010 Climax

| posted on March 05, 2010

NEWPORT BEACH, CA – (March 3, 2010) – Reports of an expanding El Nino weather condition built expectations last year of a spectacular big wave season to come. And, remarkably, the oceans of the world have responded on cue, delivering an almost endless procession of epic swells and superlative rides by the world’s best big wave riders. With only two weeks left before the annual event window closes for the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy, the visual evidence is widespread and conclusive – this was the greatest winter of big wave surfing ever experienced.

To date, over 1000 still and video images have been entered into the Tenth Annual Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards, where they may be viewed at the event website at www.BillabongXXL.com. The event window runs through the vernal equinox (the end of the Northern Hemisphere winter on March 19). The gala invitation-only Billabong XXL Awards show will take place April 23 at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California and features over $130,000 in prize money. The event will be televised on the ESPN Networks starting May 18, 2010.

By far the biggest theme in this year’s event has been a dramatic push by the sport’s elite to resist the the advantage of tow-surfing’s jet powered assist and return to the roots of the sport – paddling into the biggest waves possible using arm power and bravery alone. The trend has intertwined with a spectacular run of El Nino-fueled swells which have allowed an unprecedented number of one-day big wave paddle events to run worldwide, including the Billabong Pico Alto in July, the Nelscott Reef Classic in October, the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau in December, the Maverick’s Surf Contest in mid-February and the Todos Santos Big Wave Event just last weekend.

The Billabong XXL Awards include the biggest and best waves ridden all over the world over the course of an entire year, encompassing those caught during surf contests and those rides which happen in the middle of nowhere – provided there is photographic proof. And this year (for the first time ever in the XXL’s ten years of existence) the vast bulk of the entries are in the Monster Paddle division. And not only do the entries come from the known-paddle arenas such as Hawaii’s Waimea Bay, Maverick’s in California and Todos Santos, Mexico, they are coming from places which were not long ago considered only possible with a jet ski, including Jaws on Maui, the Cortes Bank 100 miles off California and an assortment of rare outer reefs along Oahu’s North Shore. No matter when or where, this year surfing’s elite have been “armed” and ready for action.

“Anybody who has paddled and towed into big waves will tell you that paddling in is the ultimate challenge, there’s no other feeling or experience like that,” said Greg Long of San Clemente, California, who has won more XXL categories than any other surfer. “Personal watercraft came in and sort of revolutionized the sport there for a couple of years and introduced a whole new aspect to the sport. But right now, everybody’s focus I think has really gone back to paddling into waves and pushing the limits of what’s actually doable.

“With the advancements in forecasting technology, our understanding of the waves, physically what we’re capable of enduring when we wipeout, and then our equipment — the whole limit of what is possible has just been elevated to new heights,” said Long. “I still think we’re yet to find where any of those limits are.”

To see an assortment of the latest entries in all the key event categories including Monster Paddle, Monster Tube, Biggest Wave and Ride of the Year, visit www.BillabongXXL.com.

For an array of Ride of the Year clips which you can view or embed on your own website, see
www.YouTube.com/surfnews.

And while you’re at it, join the Billabong XXL Facebook fan site at http://www.facebook.com/GLOBALBIGWAVEAWARDS.

The Tenth Annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards are presented by Monster Energy. Surfline is the official surf forecaster, Verizon Wireless is the official communications provider and Honda Aquatrax the official watercraft. The event is sponsored by Surfing Magazine and Air Tahiti Nui.