the XXL competition period runs through the end of winter in March 2011, a steady run of massive swells in the Southern Hemisphere and an early launch to the Northern season has encouraged some quality entries.
Pound-for-pound some of the most astounding entries once again come from Shipstern Bluff, on the southern tip of Australia’s Tasmanian peninsula with local Hobart area surfers Mike Brennan, James Hollmer-Cross (both past Ride of the Year Nominees) and Shaun Wallbank hurling themselves into contention for the Monster Tube Award. Likewise, a huge swell striking the Fijian Islands produced a slew of barrel contenders at Cloudbreak for Australian Dave Scard and Hawaiian Shaun Lopez, plus a Verizon Wipeout of the Year nod for Aussie Laurie Towner.
The Monster Paddle Award category has become a central focus of the XXL Awards in recent years and that noble trend continues in 2010/11. Huge waves have been ridden in Chile and Peru, and more recently an early November swell sent surfers scrambling across the West Coast from Oregon to Maverick’s near San Francisco, to the Cortes Bank, an isolated reef 100 miles off the Southern California Coast. Hawaii’s Kohl Christensen earned big respect on some bombs at the Nelscott Reef contest at Lincoln City, Oregon – dropping into some true Monster Paddle contenders. Further south, Hawaiian Mark Healey led an all star cast who paddled big Mavs through the afternoon of November 2, and then pulled off the unprecedented act of surfing Cortes Bank the next morning (thanks to a late night flight and a radar-equipped speedboat). California's Greg Long scored some of the bigger waves during both the morning tow-in session and the afternoon paddle-in attack.
In the pure-height XXL Biggest Wave category a lot of attention has gone to a new discovery called Punta Docas off southern Chile, including a ride deftly handled by Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa. This marked the first time the remote spot had been ridden at any significant size and proved yet another world-class wave exists in South America. Fresh entries have also come from another new break in Ireland dubbed “Prowlers.” Northern Ireland’s Al Mennie and visiting South African Jeremy Johnson scored “first tracks” at the imposing European righthander.
The 2011 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 who are honored at a gala awards function in Southern California each April.
The 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 Surfing Magazine and Air Tahiti Nui airlines.