Gerlach Wins Billabong XXL

Even though there were plenty of huge waves in contention for his year’s XXL, it came as little surprise that Brad Gerlach and his Todos Santos bomb from December 21, 2005 (Big Wednesday) took home the top prize. It measured in at 68 feet, which sent Gerr home with a $68k check ($1k per foot), which he reportedly split with tow partner and 2001 XXL winner Mike “Snips Parsons. Gerlach seemed humbly surprised at the win. “It was definitely the right wave, he said. “I got lucky–totally lucky.

Hosted by ESPN commentator Sal Masekela (who actually began his career at Transworld Media as a receptionist), the show began and got the spectators’ blood flowing with a video featuring all the usual big waves: Teahupoo, Todos Santos, Maverick’s, Ghost Tree, Waimea Bay, Cyclops, Shipstern Bluff, plus a big entry from Chile, as well. But, surprisingly absent from this years nominee list was Jaws, although the wave didn’t go unrecognized as a special Peahi expression section was featured.

The night before a panel of industry experts met, drank beer, and put measuring sticks to the waves in contention. Their guidelines were straightforward: any surfer, any place, and the biggest wave, biggest paddle-in, and biggest tube would win.

Besides the main awards, two other individuals were recognized. Sean Collins presented Jamie Sterling with the Surfline Overall performance award, a voter’s choice award. “I’ve never actually won anything in my life, said an elated Sterling after the show. “I’ve never won a pro contest, or even an amateur one, so this just gives a lot of motivation for kids that don’t excel in competitions. I’m 25 and I just won my first thing.

Jamilah Star received the Billabong Girl’s Best Overall Performance Award–another voter’s choice award–for her paddle-in performance at Maverick’s and at Waimea Bay. It was as close as it could be, with Star beating Keala Kennelly’s impressive tow-in tube at Teahupoo by a single vote. Star gave a heart-filled and religious thanks, saying that the money will be well used considering that she has no sponsors.

The rowdy crowd was especially expressive during the wipeout section, not being shy to vocalize their “oh shits. Garrett McNamara won the Golden Donut Award, an award given for the best wipeout, for his spill at Shark Park.

It was also no surprise that Shane Dorian took home the Monster Tube Award and a cash prize of $5,000 for his tube ride that some say surpassed human possibility at Teahupoo. He accepted the award while also acknowledging the other nominees like CJ Hobgood for his wave at Teahupoo.

The Monster Paddle Award was a close competition between two Todos Santos nominees, a Maverick’s wave, the Chilean Punta Lobos spot, and a Waimea wave. Chile’s Diego Medina prevailed and gave an animated and patriotic thanks saying that the award was not only for him, but also for South America. He energetically held up a check for $10,000.