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File under OMG! - Tahiti ingests Nathan Fletcher

Nathan Fletcher © / Billabong


Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards

'Biggest Ever' days in Tahiti, Fiji & Tassie challenge northern hemispher action

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 31 October, 2011 : - - If the oceanic antics south of the equator are any indications, this could well be the greatest year-long barrage of surf ever faced in the 12-year history of the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy.  Over the past six months -- spanning the bulk of the winter season in the Southern Hemisphere -- nearly every key big wave spot went off the known charts in terms of size and heaviness. 

And it wasn’t just one rogue storm event, there were consistently huge waves arriving at locations such as Tahiti, Fiji, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Perhaps no surf spot has ever put on as fearsome a show as Tahiti’s Teahupoo, which experienced a massive swell in late August, causing a “Code Red” condition, closing all harbors to boat traffic and forcing the cancellation of the Billabong Pro for the day.  Teams of tow surfers eventually found their way out to the lineup to see the biggest day ever challenged at Teahupoo’s notoriously shallow reef. 

The result was a session combining heroic successes and horrific failures, with some of the most shocking wipeouts in the history of the sport.  Fortunately there were no major injuries, and the still photo and video camera recordings of the day have ensured an unprecedented onslaught of entries in an assortment of Billabong XXL Awards categories from Ride of the Year to the Verizon Best Wipeout.

Other big wave breaks benefiting from this spate of storm production Down Under have included the remote and spooky staircase of a wave at Shipstern Bluff, off the southern tip of Tasmania, and the idyllic island of Tavarua, Fiji, where astonishingly perfect big wave tubes set the bar for both tow-in and paddle surfers alike. Not to be left behind, Chile and Western Australia have also been producing entries at a growing rate.




Among the surfers finding themselves in early contention for possible nominations for various XXL categories include Australians Anthony Walsh, Dylan Longbottom, Marti Paradisis and James McKeen.  Among the Hawaiian frontrunners are Mark Healey, Kohl Christensen, Garrett McNamara, Keala Kennelly and Bruce Irons. California’s Nathan Fletcher is also deep in the mix with his mindblowing Teahupoo ride that detonated across nearly dry coral reef.

Yet at this point, no rides are guaranteed a nomination when the event concludes in March.  The peak window of high surf activity in the Northern Hemisphere is expected to open up in the coming days and the world’s best big wave riders are tuning their bodies and equipment in places like Hawaii, Northern California, Ireland and Portugal.

The 2012 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards runs through the vernal equinox on March 19, 2012, with an elaborate awards ceremony in California in late April.  Unlike conventional surfing competitions which wait in one location until the waves come to them, the 12th annual Billabong XXL Awards has the unique advantage of a window which runs all year long and is open to all the world’s best surfers at all the world’s best big waves -- whenever and wherever they come in – as long as they are caught on film or tape.

The 2012 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards feature an array of categories including the $50,000 Ride of the Year, Monster Paddle, Monster Tube and the Verizon Wireless Wipeout of the Year.  There are also “world champ” awards for the Surfline Best Overall Performance (male) and the Billabong Girls Best Performance (female).  The event features over $130,000 in cash prizes for the surfers and photographers.

The Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards are fueled by Monster Energy.  Verizon Wireless is the official communications provider and 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 Surfing Magazine and Air Tahiti Nui airlines.

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Bill Sharp

Big Wave - Surfersvillage


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