Benjamin “Sancho” Sanchis of Hossegor, France tows into a monster at Belharra Reef in the Basque Country. An Entry in the 2011 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards. Video by Julien Roulland. For more info see www.BillabongXXL.com
NEWPORT BEACH – (February 18, 2011) – With the competition window of the 11th Annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards fueled by Monster Energy closing in just over a month, a stunning list of new developments have supercharged the event like never before.
The groundbreaking contest (often referred to as the Oscars of big wave surfing) honors the brave watermen (and women) who have taken on the greatest waves of the last year at any break anywhere in the world, based on the photographic evidence. The gala invitation-only XXL awards ceremony will take place on the evening of April 29, 2011 at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California and features over $130,000 in prize money to be distributed to the worthy champions in categories which include the Monster Paddle, Monster Tube, XXL Biggest Wave, Billabong Girls Best Performance, Surfline Best Men's Performance and the ever-popular Verizon Wipeout of the Year. In a new twist, the winner of the top-line Ride of the Year Award will not only receive $50,000 but a one-year lease on a Toyota Tacoma truck to assist in their big wave quest in the coming year. Also joining the party is Contour, the official Point-Of-View camera of the XXL.
And the competition is shaping up to be fierce as ever due to a pair of huge back-to-back swells that hit Europe this week. While Hawaii, California and the rest of the Pacific shores continue to suffer through one of the least consistent winters in memory, all eyes have suddenly turned to The Continent. Ireland's Mullaghmore Head, a Teahupoo-esque left-breaking cold-water slab, delivered a bounty of huge barrels just in time for the Billabong/Monster Tow In contest on February 14. Some of the 30 to 40 foot tubes ridden that day may figure well into the Monster Tube and Ride of the Year divisions of the XXL event.
Two days later, another swell slammed the region and deep within the Bay of Biscay a number of intrepid surfers were there to take on much larger (albeit less hollow) walls of water at the famed break of Belharra, a break that has produced a stream of XXL entries since it was pioneered a decade ago. Photos and video of the Belharra session will likely have a solid impact on the XXL Biggest Wave division, especially with the lack of major swell activity in the Pacific. Several top European surfers were able to capitalize on both sessions, including Benjamin Sanchis, Eric Rebiere and Axi Muniain, all well-known big wave talents from the Basque Coast. The new entries join hundreds more sent in from around the globe including Chile, Fiji, Western Australia, Tasmania, Mexico, Oregon, California and Hawaii. To view the entries, visit the event website at www.BillabongXXL.com. Competitors have until March 19 to find as many other gargantuan waves before the annual XXL event cycle closes.
This year, the nominees in each division will be announced at the Billabong XXL Experience exhibit at the Sacred Craft Consumer Surfboard Show at the Rittenhouse Building in Santa Cruz, California on March 19 & 20. Sacred Craft has come to be one of the most important meeting grounds for surfboard designers from around the world and this show will feature the debut of the Billabong XXL Experience which will feature many of the actual surfboards which were ridden to win XXL categories over the years. Just a few of the historic boards available for examination include the tow boards Mike Parsons rode when he set the record for the biggest wave ever ridden (70 feet ++) at Cortes Bank in 2008, along with the board he rode in the opening scene of the Billabong Odyssey movie – the most viewed surfing clip of all time on YouTube. Also on display will be Shane Dorian's 9'8" gun he rode on massive paddle waves at Waimea Bay and Maverick's (both Ride of the Year nominees in 2010), the board Skindog Collins rode in huge Puerto Escondido to take the first Ride of the Year title, the board Maya Gabeira rode at massive Jaws and many, many more. Along with the boards, there will be video highlights from 11 years of XXL events, surfer and shaper appearance – and the revealing of the nominees for the 2011 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards.
The 11th Annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards are fueled by Monster Energy. Verizon Wireless is the official communications provider and Surfline.com is the exclusive surf forecast of the XXL. Toyota is the official vehicle and Contour the exclusive provider of point of view cameras. The event is sponsored by Air Tahiti Nui.