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Near-death tales ripe at Aussie Big Wave Awards

Mikey Brennan © Stu Gibson

 

 

Big Wave Updates

'Oi' My God: Aussie Big Wave Awards names finalists

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 4 February, 2014 - Australia’s most prestigious huge-surf awards are up for grabs again, along with $35,000 in prizemoney, as finalists have been decided in Surfing Life’s Oakley Big Wave Awards. Massive, death-defying rides have been thrown into the mix from renowned big-wave chargers like former Awardees Tyler Hollmer-Cross and Laurie Towner, and rising paddle star, Jeff Rowley. But these well-known watermen are facing stiff opposition from underground hell-men like West Australian Shanan Worrall, not to mention a man who goes solely by the name of Camel!

Some of the largest waves to be ridden in Australian waters have been entered by a group of Tasmanians, surfed at a mythical, dangerous, open ocean wave far from safety. The surf spot of Pedra Branca is an overnight journey from Tasmania, endured in 15 metre seas by a group of hardened big wave surfers with only one goal in mind – to ride the biggest wave possible – as Tyler Hollmer Cross explains:

“It's always really rough heading out there, you can really feel how big the swell is and it makes you seasick.In the morning, on arrival, we were blown by how big the swell was, you could feel the wave energy from the boat as they broke, these were the biggest waves I’ve ever seen in my life.

The first wave we saw would have had to have a 70 foot face. I knew that the wave I caught, my finalist entry, was the biggest of my life. As Tasmanians, we are lucky enough to have some of the biggest waves in the world on our doorstep. Our crew are an amazing bunch of chargers and photographers that all hang out as mates. Everyone is so supportive and we feed off each other’s positive energy and drive.”

Danger is ever-present, however; after his Biggest Wave finalist entry, Tyler was held under in a deep passage of water for an extended period, eventually surfacing disoriented, resulting in him being physically ill a number of times, “I knew I had to get out of the way of the lip so I didn’t get knocked out.

"I tried to pull through the back of the wave, but it took me with it and I was driven so deep into the abyss. It felt like my head was going to pop from the pressure. I managed to get one gasp of air before the wave behind that one landed on me. Eventually my brother, and fellow finalist, James, picked me up, but I was ill and I couldn’t see anything as my vision was blurred.” Fellow Biggest Wave Finalists, Danny Griffiths and Mikey Brennan, broke their foot and tore knee ligaments respectively during the session.

From harrowing boat journeys, injured limbs and near drownings, to a man known solely as ‘Camel’ who has never tow-surfed in his life, yet has a monstrous nomination in the Biggest Paddle-In category.

‘Camel,’ full name Jeffree Goulden, is a man who has put his whole existence into surfing, spending years in the jungles of Indonesia hunting perfect, tropical barrels, to living out of the back of his car chasing uncrowded, and notoriously sharky, surf along Australia’s coast. Last year, Camel won the Biggest Paddle In category from a solo-session at an isolated West Australian location, this year he has put his hand firmly into the ring once again.

“After surfing for seven hours the day before, my Biggest Paddle finalist wave was actually the second wave I caught, very early the next morning. I was still half asleep and I hadn’t really noticed how much the surf had grown in size until this wave was bearing down on me. But it looked big, so I had to go. It was only myself and fellow finalist Sam Jervis out at this spot early this morning.

"There’s a lot going through your head out here when it’s this big. Not only do you have to worry about the very real danger of copping the beating of a lifetime, but the water is cold and with a seal colony close by, there are some very large animals under the ocean that could end your session, and your life, in an instant. I surf a lot in this area now, and often just getting out of the water alive and in one piece is enough to make you give a hoot and be very thankful you’ve surfed these treacherous, sharky waters and lived to tell the tale.’

Considering the enormity of Camel’s entry and strong presence in the event in the previous two years, we can only wait with bated breath for his entries in future years.

This year’s finalists have again been decided through a surfer poll in which every surfer who’s ever registered for an Award entry was asked to vote for the top few rides in each of the three divisions: Biggest Wave, Biggest Slab, and Biggest Paddle-in Ride. This voting method is endemic to Surfing Life’s Oakley Big Wave Awards, differentiating it from all other Big Wave competitions around Australia and the world, providing the surfers with their rightful power in selecting the biggest and heaviest waves.

“We feel the surfers themselves are the best judges of each other’s performances,” explains event coordinator, Nick Carroll. “They know these wild surf zones better than anyone else and they have a clear view of the challenge involved. We’re stoked with the way they respond! They’ve come up with an epic group of finalists, that’s for sure.”

Biggest Wave, Biggest Slab, and Biggest Paddle-In rides are now in the hands of the finalist judges – an elite international panel of big wave maestros – and they’ll be stretched to pick the winners out of an unprecedented range of entries.

Surfing Life’s Oakley Big Wave Awards have come to highlight a side of surfing that’s way beyond both the recreational mainstream and the professional competitive arena – a zone where seemingly normal people take seemingly outlandish risks, with seemingly little concern for fame or renown.

Surfing Life’s Oakley Big Wave Awards will be presented at a super, spectacular, celebrity-studded evening at Manly’s Wharf Bar on Wednesday February 12th, 2014.

 

 

Biggest Wave
James Hollmer-Cross
Tyler Hollmer-Cross
Ryan Waine
Danny Griffiths
Paul Viney
Mikey Brennan

Biggest Paddle-In
James Hollmer-Cross
Kirk Bierke
Camel
Mark Mathews
Sam Jervis
Jeff Rowley

Biggest Slab
Bradley Norris
Shanan Worrall
Laurie Towner
Ryan Hipwood
Kyron Rathbone

Author: 
ASL
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