Savannah Shaughnessy Billabong XXL Award Finalist

Strive team rider Savannah Shaughnessy a Billabong XXL Award finalist

This winter, while studying for her Physics, Cellular Biology and Mammalian Endocrinology Physiology classes, Savannah Shaughnessy made time to ride some of the biggest waves of the year. A Biology B.S. Major at UC Santa Cruz, Shaughnessy honed her big wave riding skills at Steamer Lane and spots north of Santa Cruz. “The first time I paddled out to Mavs was with Sarah Gerhardt. I just spent the entire time watching and learning the line up.”

Since that day Savannah has been fine tuning her boards with Strive Surfboards owner and head shaper, Jon Henderson. “Savi was 15 the first time she paddled out with me on a big day up the coast, I was a little worried about this young girl”stated Jon “but when a huge set cleaned out the line-up, Savi was one of the first to power back out and she had the biggest smile on her face! She was totally stoked.”It was clear that Mavericks was in her future. “We were constantly refining her guns and shortboards over the years. Now we have her boards pretty well dialed.” stated Henderson. Savannah wanted to ensure that when she finally did catch a bomb, her equipment would enable her to ride it to the best of her ability. “Jon’s been shaping for me since I was 14. He and I have spent a lot of time in the shaping room working on my boards. He’s made me a bunch of great shortboards and guns!”

To put her Strive boards to the test Savannah spends most of the summer months living in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. “That’s the ultimate place to find out if a board works or not.” said Savannah. “There’s so much paddling and current and the waves are so fast and critical there that it is very important to me that I have a board that can paddle really well. Yet to make the drop the board needs to have the right amount of rocker so you don’t get hung up in the lip. Jon definitely has made the perfect boards for me to feel confident out there on any given day.”

After that first introduction to Mavericks as a 16 year-old in 2005, Shaughnessy has spent countless hours each winter surfing the spot in varying conditions. “Some of the funnest sessions I’ve had out there have been in somewhat undesirable conditions” admits Savannah. “There’s usually not that many people out and it’s really good practice for when the conditions improve, and to learn more about the wave.”Triple over-head Puerto to Mavericks bombs, Savannah has paid her dues and is humbled by the honor of being included as a nominee for the 2010 Billabong XXL Girl’s Best Performance Award.

In addition to being mentioned alongside the best female big wave riders on the planet, Savannah was equally honored to be mentioned in a recent interview with Peter Mel in Transworld Surf Magazine. When TWS asked Pete “The last time someone made an impression on you?”, he answered “This winter at a session at Mavericks. Savannah Shaughnessy, a 20 year-old from Santa Cruz, rushed a big one on the bowl at Mavericks…”With all of the mind blowing performances that Pete’s seen this winter at Mavericks, Waimea and even Snapper Rocks, the first person who came to mind was Savannah. Safe to say it’s been a good season for the 20 year-old.

“It’s been a really great year for me. I couldn’t have asked for more. At the end of the day, I’m just happy that I was able to have lots of good sessions at Mavericks and got really fun waves. I love being there, and this was by far my best season out there. I think this was a really special winter for everyone involved in big wave surfing, and I am excited to have been a part of it. The best day of the year for me was the day of the Mavericks competition; from making the paddle out, to having the opportunity to watch the best big wave surfers in the world surf Mavericks on one of the biggest paddle days ever out there, and then catching a nice wave after the contest. I will never forget watching Shane Dorian getting spit out of a really big barrel that day!”

When winter finally ends and she puts the finishing touches on her Mammailian Endocrinology Physiology final, Savannah will pack up her belongings for summer storage at her parent’s home and migrate to Puerto Escondido to put her new Strive quiver to the test and begin preparing for what next winter has in store for her.

Surftech and Strive Surfboards would like to congratulate all of the 2010 XXL nominees and wish them the best of luck next Friday. To see all of the Girls Performance Award nominees go to

Click here for an insightful interview with Savannah by Mavericks veteran Taylor Paul.