This year’s big winner of the BILLABONG XXL is Shane Dorian, according to me. Dorian’s wave at Teahupoo on Nov. 1, 2007 is the winner for RIDE OF THE YEAR and he deserves the $50K prize. The interesting thing about this ride is that nothing goes according to plan, at least from my vantage. Shane is a little off kilter throughout the entire ride, yet the sum off all the jagged parts equals one mind blowing Teahupoo reef bender.
“The Cortes Bank adventure was easily the greatest single big-wave surfing mission ever attempted.”
Check out all the Billabong XXL entries here.
Let us dissect. First off, Dorian starts with a hiccup. He lets go of the tow rope late and stays high so that when he commits to the wave, to the horror of everyone, he air drops six feet over a meaty ledge. Then, to the delight of everyone, Dorian sticks the landing as if hunting a wild pig in the hills of Kailua-Kona. However, this first miscue causes Dorian to square off his bottom turn in the flats which seemingly rockets him too high. He’s now on a ridiculous highline, and he comes perilously close to not setting his inside rail (almost getting pitched and therefore killed). The highest of high lines forces him into an awkward but necessary lay forward. By the way, at this point he’s twenty feet back and Teahupoo has devoured him. It’s hold-on-and-pray time. After disappearing into the cementy froth Dorian is gloriously firehosed into a bizarre head-plant-to-cartwheel-to-back-breaker finish. A crowd pleaser for sure. Far and away the craziest, most hair-raising and most precarious ride of the year. Congrats ShaneO!!
Trying to decide who rode the biggest wave this year is tough. God only knows. My gut feeling is that it was Mike Parsons at Cortes Bank. But rides by Adur Letamendia in Spain, and Keali’i Mamala at Mavericks and Jamie Sterling at an outer bombie in Australia, and Shane Desmond at Ghost Tree and Tyler Fox and the list goes on and on and on and on…
All of the contestants for “BIGGEST WAVE” are worthy, because it’s so hard to decipher the biggest wave. As a general rule I hate it when contestants of an event get together and decide to bro-vide the dough (split money evenly). But for this category I believe they should do just that. I think there are something like 150 entrants. Each one of those has a photographer attached, so that makes roughly 300 total winners! Splitting the money amongst all of them would mean about $63 each. Splitting up the Honda Aquatrax 300 ways could prove difficult.
Attention Bill Sharp, I’ve got a better idea. I suggest Billabong carry the money over each and every year until somebody legitimately rides a 100-foot wave. Each year it’s absolutely too close to tell who rode the biggest wave. Mix in the camera angles, the junk science, the calipers, the egos (and the alcohol) and we have a traveshamockery on our hands. I say let us wait.
Let us wait until it is as clear as day that a surfer has ridden the 100 foot wave. Now there’s good idea. $100 Thousand for 100-Feet! And from a marketing perspective this idea has legs. The NY times, CNN, History Channel, QVC, Military Channel, Nickelodeon, Oprah, you name it, the PR froth would be flowing.
But of course, Bill and the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards folks will decide a winner in this division and I do not envy them. I tried and couldn’t do it. Like I said, my gut tells me Mike Parsons rode the biggest wave at Cortes Bank. But he won’t win because the photos aren’t that great.
However, when you look back over the course of big wave surfing this year, that against-the-odds run out to Cortes Bank has to be acknowledged. This adventure was easily the greatest single big-wave surfing mission ever attempted. Understand that the crew (Parsons, Brad Gerlach, Greg Long, Grant Baker and a few others) went over 100 miles in 20 foot seas between two major low pressure systems on the faint hope that the wind would lay down for a few hours. And it did! And they scored! I don’t know about RIDE OF THE YEAR Year or MONSTER TUBE or Monster Cables or Monster Trucks, but I do know that this adventure was far and away the MONSTER MISSION OF THE YEAR. Kudos to that crew for pulling it off!
My unofficial winners of the 2008 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards are as follows:
BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR – SHANE DORIAN at TEAHUPOO Nov. 1 2007 by GUSTAVO CAMARAO
BILLABONG XXL BIGGEST WAVE – MIKE PARSONS at CORTES BANK Jan. 5, 2008 by ROBERT BROWN
MONSTER PADDLE – BEN ANDREWS at MAVERICKS by JACK ENGLISH
MONSTER TUBE – JAMIE STERLING at TEAHUPOO by TIM MCKENNA
SURFLINE PERFORMANCE AWARD – JAMIE STERLING
WOMENS PERFORMANCE AWARD – MAYA GABEIRA