Brazilian Carlos Burle has won the $75,000 Nissan Xterra XXL Big Surf Awards presented by Surfline.com and Surfing Magazine. Burle received the grand prize of $50,000 and a 2002 Nissan Xterra for riding the biggest wave of the winter, a 68-foot behemoth at Maverick’s on Nov. 11, 2001. The presentation was made late Thursday evening at the Oakley world headquarters in Foothill Ranch, Calif., as daredevil big wave riders mingled with a standing-room-only crowd of surf industry luminaries and special guests.
Following a virtual “dead heat” finish, Burle narrowly edged Australian Cheyne Horan, who rode a 65 foot wave at Jaws, Hawaii on Jan. 7, 2002 and reigning event champion Mike “Snips” Parsons (San Clemente, Calif.), who conquered a stunning 64 foot “barrel” at Jaws, also on Jan. 7. All three were “towed” into their waves. Also recognized was Burle’s photographer, Frank Quirarte who won $5,000, and his tow-in partner and XXL contender, fellow Brazilian Eraldo Gueiros Neto. “I never thought something like this could happen in my life,” said Burle.
Parsons, who won last year’s XXL with a 66-footer at Cortes Banks, was honored with the inaugural Jay Moriarity “Outstanding Performance” Award. ?From Todos to Mavs to Jaws to even Europe, Mike was there for every single big swell that landed,? said Surfline’s Sean Collins. “His commitment was extraordinary. Plus he got the tube of the winter at Jaws.”
Parsons’ award was named after the late big wave charger Jay Moriarity, who passed away last June. According to XXL judge and Surfing Magazine Editor-In-Chief Evan Slater, “Jay was the consummate big-wave surfer. He was the most dedicated, had the best attitude and was one of the most talented. He probably would have won this category hands down.”
Collins, on behalf of Surfline, presented Moriarity’s widow Kim with a $500 check for the Jay Moriarity foundation. “I’m really humbled to get an award in memory of Jay Moriarity,” said Parsons. “I had the surf of my life at Jaws. This winter was the peak for me.”
The evening’s third and final award was presented to Australian Paul “Pato” Paterson for the XXL’s largest Paddle-In wave. Measured at 48 feet, the wave was shot by Pete Frieden on Jan. 7 at Waimea, Hawaii. Paterson took home a check for $10,000.
Beginning mid-October, 2001 and ending March 15, 2002, the Nissan Xterra XXL attracted top surfers from around the world vying to ride the winter?s biggest wave. While the “contest area” featured the entire North Pacific Ocean, including famed breaks like Todos Santos Island and Cortes Bank (Southern Calif.), most of this season’s action focused on Hawaii (Jaws, Waimea) and Maverick’s (Northern Calif.).
According to Collins, this past winter was unusual due to a stubborn high-pressure system that anchored itself in the North Pacific and diverted much of the storm track away from California and Hawaii. “The few days that we did have, were as good as ever,” said Collins. He went on to predict and even bigger winter next years, stating that an El Nino was looming on the horizon.
Collins added that both the winning tow-in waves were milestones, similar to last year’s discovery of Cortes Bank. “Burle’s wave was probably the largest documented wave ridden at Maverick’s.” Collins and Slater both agree that Jaws was rediscovered this year among the “elite” big wave surfers. Many had never surfed it before, including Parsons. “Jaws is still the gnarliest wave out there today for power, intimidation and fear factor,” said Collins.
Using calipers and rulers to measure the waves, the final judging, overseen by famed photo editor Larry Moore (Surfing Magazine) acting as the Chief Justice, was conducted by an expert panel including Sam George (Surfer Magazine), Chris Mauro (Surfer Magazine), Mickey Munoz (Legendary Surfer) and Evan Slater (Surfing Magazine).
The Nissan Xterra XXL serves annually as an “umbrella” competition for several big wave events. Participaating competitions included the Billabong Odyssey, Jaws Tow-In World Cup, Quiksilver Men Who Ride Mountains and Quiksilver’s In Memory of Eddie Aikau.