NEWPORT BEACH, CA — (March 13, 2008) — There’s just a week left in the annual event period for the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy and less than a month remains before the world’s surfing elite gather in Anaheim, California for the gala XXL Awards party. And while the massive jet-powered entries in the XXL Ride of the Year and Biggest Wave get the bulk of the mainstream attention, the core surfing community continues to focus ever more closely on the traditional category of Paddle-In surfing.
This year there is a vast array of potential contenders from all around the world, ranging from Ben Andrews and Nic Lamb at Maverick’s in Northern California to Greg Long, Mark Healey and Jamie MItchell at Todos Santos, Mexico to Kalani Chapman at Waimea Bay, Hawaii to wildcards like Felipe Barnales at Pico Alto, Peru or Reinaldo Ibarra at Punta Lobos, Chile. In all, there have been over 113 entries in the Monster Paddle division — the most in history by a wide margin — and they will be whittled down the five biggest faces by the XXL’s Voting Academy made up of the competitors, photographers and top journalists who cover the sport.
The Monster Paddle category of the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards has made a significant surge in grassroots popularity and credibility amongst the elite in the sport over the past several seasons. Surfers who specialize in tow surfing with motorized watercraft — and fail to take the opportunity to paddle into a few big ones when the conditions are right — do little to earn the respect of their peers or ensure an eligibility in the XXL Biggest Wave category itself.
“If you want respect you have to dig deep and prove that you can paddle into a big one on your own when it’s heavy,” said Ken “Skindog” Collins, last year’s XXL Ride of the Year champion and a master of all big wave disciplines.
“Getting towed into a big wave when you don’t have the skills to paddle into one is cheating plain and simple,” said Collins. “It’s fraud. None of the top guys want to see it. You need to paddle in when it’s gnarly, take your lumps, THEN go tow into a few. Simple as that.”
And it’s not just the men who have taken up arms against some the year’s bigger swells. At Waimea Bay on Oahu, sexist barriers continue to be shattered by Maya Gabeira, Jamilah Star and Jenny Useldinger who were captured on film paddling into waves bigger than any registered by quite a number of popular male big wave riders. To view the latest entries in the Monster Paddle category, click here Billabong XXL Entries.
Nominees will be announced March 21 in the Monster Paddle category and all other divisions including Billabong XXL Ride of the Year, Billabong XXL Biggest Wave powered by Honda, Monster Tube, Surfline Best performance and Billabong Girls Best Performance. Over $130,000 in cash and prizes will be at stake. The Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards ceremony will take place on April 11 at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California, and while seating is limited to 2000 invitation-only VIPs, the entire show will be webcast on both BillabongXXL.com and EXPN.com. The event will also be presented as an hour-long TV special on ESPN2 airing on Thursday, May 29 at 9:30 P.M. on the West Coast (12:30 A.M. late-night in the East).
To develop your own opinions on the biggest waves and best rides among the 500 entries in big wave surfing’s top global event, click on the website at BillabongXXL.com.
The Eighth Annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards is presented by Monster Energy. Verizon Wireless is the official communications provider and Honda Aquatrax is the official watercraft of the event. Surfline is the exclusive Surf Forecaster for the XXL. The awards are supported by Hawaiian Airlines, Surfing Magazine and High Surf Accessories.