NEWPORT BEACH, CA — (March 18, 2005) — A pair of extraordinary late-season swells hit the West Coast of North America in the couple of weeks, producing the biggest waves seen in California in several years and a flurry of stunning entries for the fifth-annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy.
Legitimate contenders for both the tow-in XXL prize and the Monster Paddle Award have arrived at event headquarters and are being posted on the BillabongXXL.com website. The year-long competition concludes on March 31, and is only open to invited watermen (and women) who have demonstrated long-standing abilities in big wave surfing and safety. The invitation-only gala awards ceremony will take place on the evening of April 22, 2005 at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, CA.
On March 2, the Maverick’s Surf Contest went off in spectacular conditions at the famed big wave spot south of San Francisco. While Anthony Tashnick won the event, several of the rides during the competition are emerging as potential front-runners for nomination as finalists in the Monster Biggest Paddle Wave Award category. Among the classic images are rides by Shane Desmond and Zach Wormhoudt of Santa Cruz, CA and Greg Long of San Clemente, CA.
Exactly a week later an even larger and very west swell rocked the same coast and pushed well beyond the realm of paddle surfing at the key high surf venues. With the large swell hitting Hawaii at nearly the same time, members of the big wave surfing community spread out in all directions to quickly meet the challenge of the fast-moving long-period swell.
The notorious Cortes Bank — in the open ocean 105 miles off San Diego — produced the biggest surf seen there in over four years in a windy, bumpy afternoon session. Southern California big wave hunters Mike Parsons, Rusty Long and Greg Long all rode waves worthy of XXL consideration.
At Mavericks, fog and wind plagued the day, but regulars Josh Loya and Jeff Clark were among the watermen who carefully picked off some massive brown-grey walls in hairy conditions.
But perhaps most spectacular are some of the images from Ghost Trees, off the famed Pebble Beach golf course on the Monterey Peninsula. The combination of the swell direction and local weather and wind maximized the potential of the rarely-seen wave. Carmel locals Don Curry and Ed Guzman were joined by Santa Cruz’s Tyler and Russell Smith, Skindog Collins, Adam Replogle and Alistair Craft, Hawaiian Noah Johnson and Australian Justen “Jughead” Allport in the historic session. Many rides were captured on camera depicting waves well in excess of the 50-foot mark — some of which may be on par with the two major swells which rocked Maui’s Jaws in December and January and set the XXL standard for the year.
According to Sean Collins of Surfline, the official surf forecast of the Billabong XXL Awards, this season has been anything but standard.
“It was a very unusual winter for California,” said Collins. “The record rains and close-in storms made for a poor surf winter overall on the West Coast — until March. Getting one swell of this size in March is pretty rare. For two to occur is something that hasn’t happened in the last decade at least.”
The Billabong XXL Award is annually presented to the surfer who successfully rides the biggest wave of the year anywhere in the world based on analysis of the photographic images. The XXL prize is $1000 per foot. Last year’s winner was Maui’s Pete Cabrinha who earned $70,000 and a place in the Guinness Book for his world-record 70-foot wave at the Jaws/Peahi break.
Prizes are also awarded for the Monster Paddle-In Waves ($5000 each for both men and women), the Monster Tube ($5000), the Best Combined Tow-Team Performance ($5000), the Surfline/Jay Moriarity Best Overall Performance ($5000). The finalists will be named the first week of April.
The Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards are presented by Monster Energyy, Honda watercraft and Surfing Magazine.