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Big Hawaii takes center stage for Billabong XXL Awards

Mark Healey & Shane Dorian : photo Bidu/Billabong

Big Wave News

Massive El Nino Surf Shatters Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards Records  |  en francais ci dessous

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 8 January, 2010 : - - Newport Beach, Ca -- The promise of the El Nino winter appears to have delivered for big wave surfers, as many long-standing records are ready to fall in this year's Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy. 

And more than ever before, the Monster Paddle category (just for surfers who catch their waves without any jet ski assistance) has taken center stage as the elite of the sport refocus on this elemental man-against-the-sea tradition.  Visual evidence of these landmark performances can be viewed at the event website at

While huge swells have blasted nearly every coastline of the planet in recent months, it has been the Hawaiian Islands which have had the most mind-bending proof of the power of the current El Nino weather phenomenon.  December 7-8, 2009 saw one of the biggest swells in modern history batter the northern shores of the entire Hawaiian Chain, followed by another extraordinary day of outer reef waves on Christmas.  >From these historic moments of oceanic grandeur have come images which show several top big wave surfers paddling into what may well be the biggest waves ever caught by human power in the long history of the sport.

Among these superlative rides is a massive dark wall caught by Shane Dorian and Mark Healey which closed out the legendary Waimea Bay on Oahu on December 7.  Also up for consideration is another mammoth peak at Waimea ridden by Chile's Ramon Navarro which earned the South American hero a perfect score in the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau event on December 8.

And more recently, grainy, documentary photos have arrived depicting Garrett McNamara paddling into a distant peak at Outer Log Cabins, a rarely-seen outer reef far off the North Shore shoreline, previously only the domain of tow-in surfers with jet-powered watercraft.



All are likely to figure prominently as finalists for the Monster Paddle Award to be given out at the tenth annual Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards to be held in California in late April.  A panel of big wave surfing and photography experts will analyze the available images and by interpreting the known sizes of the surfers and their surfboards, calculate reliable height estimates for the face of each wave.  One will emerge as the Monster Paddle winner and will receive $15,000 out of the total event purse of $130,000.

The current world record for a paddle-in wave belongs to Taylor Knox of San Diego, California who rode a wave measured at 52 feet at Todos Santos Island off of Ensenada, Mexico during the last major El Nino episode in 1998.  Many experts are expecting an update to the Guinness Book of World Records once this winter's measurements are complete.

Dorian and Healey are veterans of decades of big wave hunting and both concur that their shared ride at Waimea was easily the biggest either had ever caught.  "I'd been waiting 15 years for that wave," said Dorian, of Kona, on the Big Island. "That wave, we could see it from when it was like two or three minutes away from breaking, we could see the wave coming in, everybody's screaming on the beach and yelling and stuff... When the wave finally came in, it was SO big.  The thing was a MONSTER.  We both put our heads down and started paddling and somehow we both caught it.

"I was going no matter what," Dorian added. "And I know Mark felt the same way. It was just fun. A party wave -- a wave of that size, and it was for sure the biggest wave I've ever paddled into, and to do it with my real good friend, it was very....memorable."

Mark Healey has lived down the road from Waimea all his life and has been one of its most dedicated practitioners.  But he'd never seen waves like this. "That was the biggest day I've ever had at Waimea," said Healey.  "And that wave in particular was definitely by far bigger than anything I've ever caught out there, for sure."

The wave was so large it closed out all the way across the Bay, not allowing the surfers the opportunity to kick out over the top of the wave as usual, and forcing them to straighten out and take the endless tons of whitewater on their heads.  But for Healey, a renowned freediver with the ability to hold his breath for over five minutes, it was a fun experience.  The longtime friends surfaced unharmed right next to each other, hooting with excitement.

"We were pretty stoked," said Healey. "Big waves are different, there's a lot of brotherhood involved, stuff like that.  I'd rather have had Shane catch that wave than ride it alone.  It was cool to share a wave like that with a friend, and someone I look up to."

McNamara, another North Shore stalwart, likes his own chances in the Monster Paddle derby.  A past winner of the XXL Paddle crown in 2007 for a huge wave at Northern California's Maverick's, "GMac" reckons his Outer Logs Christmas present was several notches larger.  "I don't know how big it was," McNamara said.  "But I do know it felt at least ten feet bigger than anything I've ever paddled into.  The Mavs wave a few years back was small compared to it...."

Remarkably, there may be much, much more to come.  This week the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center issued an alert confirming that the current El Nino episode had intensified in the last 30 days from "moderate" to "strong," adding that the condition would exert a "significant influence on the global weather and climate in the coming months."  And for surfers in the North Pacific basin, that means more enormous waves.  According to, major new swell events are lining up in the coming days, impacting the Hawaiian Islands around Monday and the West Coast around Wednesday of next week.

Categories in this year's event include the Billabong XXL Ride of the Year, XXL Biggest Wave, Monster Paddle, Monster Tube, Surfline Best Performance, Billabong Girls Best Performance and the crowd-pleasing Verizon Wireless Wipeout of the Year.  In addition to all the latest entries in each category, full event details including formats, rules and archives of past XXL years can be seen at the event website at

The Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards are presented by Monster Energy.  Surfline is the official surf forecast, Verizon Wireless is the official communications provider and Honda Aquatrax the official watercraft.  The event is sponsored by Surfing Magazine and Air Tahiti Nui airlines.




Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 8 January, 2010 : - - El Nino a finalement tenu sa promesse en délivrant des vagues colossales qui feront tomber sûrement des records aux Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards cette année.

Et plus que jamais, c'est dans la catégorie "à la rame" (Monster Paddle Award) que l'élite mondiale du surf extrême s'est illustrée à Hawaii ce 7 décembre dernier. On notera que la crème mondiale revient aux sources de la discipline dans la plus pure tradition de l'homme contre la vague.
Jugez des performances accomplies par vous-mêmes sur le site

Parmi toutes les houles énormes qui se sont générées les derniers mois sur le globe, c'est probablement l'archipel hawaiien qui fut le plus grand témoin des forces telluriques engendrées par le phénomène météo El Nino. Les 7 et 8 décembre dernier, les plus grosses houles de l'histoire du surf contemporain se sont abattues sur îles d'Hawaii. On ne se trompera pas en affirmant que les quelques meilleurs surfeurs de gros présents dans ces conditions exceptionnelles sont entrés dans l''histoire du surf pour avoir surfé probablement les plus grosses vagues à la rame.

Parmi eux, de toute évidence, une vague a particulièrement marqué les esprits ce 7 décembre : un mur sombre qui barra toute la baie de Waimea sur l''île d'Oahu et surfé par Shane Dorian du team Billabong et Mark Healey. Avec une telle perf, les deux comparses vont probablement terminer finalistes des dixièmes Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards qui se dérouleront en Californie à la fin Avril. Un panel d'experts, surfeurs et photographes, vont analyser chacun des clichés disponibles.

En extrapolant les tailles connues des surfeurs et de leurs planches, ils parviendront à mesurer les hauteurs de chaque vague de manière fiable. Un seul repartira avec l'Award du Monster Paddle (plus grosse vague surfée à la rame) et un chèque de 15 000 U$ (sur les 130 000 US$ de gain que comptent les XXL Awards).

Depuis plus de 10 ans, Dorian et Healey ont parcouru la terre entière pour surfer du gros et c'est à Waimea, chez eux à Hawaii, qu'ils se retrouvent à surfer  en même temps la plus grosse vague de leur vie.

"J'attendais cette vague depuis 15 ans!" avoua Shane Dorian  (Kona, Big Island). On a pu observer cette vague pendant près de 3 minutes avant qu'elle ne déferle, vraiment, on la voyait arriver, et tout le monde sur la plage criait, nous faisait des signes etc... et puis finalement, elle était là, elle était TROP énorme, elle était comme un MONSTRE. Alors on a foncé et on a ramé, pour enfin se retrouver tous les deux dessus."

"De toute façon, j'y allais." rajouta Dorian." Et je savais que Mark était dans le même état d'esprit. C'était du pur bonheur : partager une vague, de cette taille, sûrement ma plus grosse à la rame, avec un vrai bon ami, cela restera gravé dans ma mémoire".

Cette vague était si grosse qu'elle barrait toute la baie (de Waimea) et elle n'a pas permis aux deux surfeurs d'en sortir par le haut comme d'habitude, les forçant à tirer tout droit et à gérer les tonnes d'eau qui s'abattaient sur leur dos.

"On était trop content!" rajoute Healey "Les grosses vagues, c'est si différent, il y a beaucoup de fraternité, de camaraderie, quelque chose comme ça. J'aurai moins apprécié si Shane n'avait pas pris cette vague avec moi. C'était cool de partager une vague comme celle la avec un ami proche et que  j'admire.

Les Billabong XXL Awards regroupent plusieurs disciplines notamment le  Billabong XXL Ride of the Year (le surf de l'année), XXL Biggest Wave (la plus grosse vague surfée toute catégorie), le Monster Paddle (la plus grosse vague surfée à la rame),  le Monster Tube (le plus gros tube), la Surfline Best Performance, la Billabong Girls Best Performance et le toujours apprécié  Verizon Wireless Wipeout of the Year (plus grosse gamelle de l'année)
Tous les mois les plus grosses vagues du monde, les meilleurs du surf "engagé", les images, les vidéos les plus fortes font leur entrée sur le

Les Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards sont  présentés par Monster Energy.  Surfline est le prévisionniste météo officiel,  Verizon Wireless le fournisseur d'accès officiel et Honda Aquatrax, les jetskis officiels.  L'événement est également sponsorisé par Surfing Magazine et Air Tahiti Nui.

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