2008 Billabong XXL Contenders

posted by / Photos / March 21, 2008



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It’s that time of year again. When the world’s most dedicated heavywater surfers take a deep, two-wave-holddown breath, lick their wounds and {{{review}}} all the footage. Off the charts Ireland. Armageddon-like West Coast. Chile. Hawaii. Oz. In what many are calling the most significant big-wave season in a decade, this year’s Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards promises to shatter a few records. In all categories, it seems like the contending waves took some serious growth hormones during the off-season. The official results won’t be revealed until the annual awards gala at the Anaheim Grove Theater on April 11, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a few calls on the nominees. Save this story and read it again on April 12. We guarantee our forecasts here.

BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $50,000 – Video prize $5,000)
Michael Brennan (Tasmania, Australia) at Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania on January 14, 2008.
(Video by Kendall O’Brien)
Carlos Burle ({{{Rio}}} de Janeiro, Brazil) at {{{Ghost}}} Tree, California on December 4, 2007.
(Video by Greg Browning)
Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on November 1, 2007.
(Video by Gustavo Camarao)
Manoa Drollet (Tahiti, French Polynesia) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on November 1, 2007.
(Video by Gustavo Camarao)
Ian Walsh (Paia, Hawaii, USA) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on November 1, 2007.
(Video by Gustavo Camarao)

SURFING’S TAKE: As you probably remember, the big prize is no longer the dude who crouches at the bottom of the tallest wave. In order to take home 50 Gs, you gotta ride that sucker. Last year, it went to Ken “Skindog” Collins for his impossibly big Puerto tube. This year, we think it’s going in the same direction: biggest, craziest tube wins. And no one’s tube is bigger or crazier than Manoa Drollet’s Tahiti tunnel. Dorian’s has a higher difficulty quotient, Ian’s is scarier-looking and Michael Brennan’s makes you want to party with the rest of the crew in the boat, but Manoa’s is just so obscenely huge that it can’t be passed up. Our only complaint is that the Ride of the Year should have at least one good paddle entry. From big Pipe to Ben Andrews’ cliffhanger at Mav’s, surely there’s at least one worthy nominee.

FIVE BILLABONG XXL BIGGEST WAVE AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $15,000 and a {{{Honda}}} Aquatrax watercraft with HSA sled – Photo/video prize $4,000)
Grant Baker (Durban, South Africa) at Cortes Bank off California on January 5, 2008.
(Photos by Robert Brown)
Tyler {{{Fox}}} (Santa Cruz, California, USA) at Ghost Tree, California on December 4, 2007.
(Photos by Mike Jones, Bart Keagy, Wayne Kelly & Dave Nelson. Video by Bruno Lemos & Graham Nash.)
Brad Gerlach (Los Angeles, California, USA) at Ghost Tree, California on December 4, 2007.
(Photos by Mike Jones, Bart Keagy, Wayne Kelly, Jason Murray & Sebastian Rojas. Video by Greg Browning)
Vincent Lartizen (Hossegor, France) at Belharra Reef, France on January 4, 2008.
(Photos by Greg Rabejac)
Mike Parsons (San Clemente, California, USA) at Cortes Bank off California on January 5, 2008.
(Photos by Robert Brown)

SURFING’S TAKE: Noticing a pattern here? Tahiti ruled the tube category while Cortes and Ghost Tree took over the tallest waves. We understand there’s no Jaws and no Outer Reefs – Hawaii just didn’t get the brunt of swells like the West Coast did this year. But no Maverick’s? After guys broke barriers on arguably the biggest day ever surfed out there? Yeah, yeah, we know it’s hard to document the true size of the wave, but that should be factored into it. Maverick’s gets burned…again. But it probably wouldn’t have been left in the foam anyway. While Ghost Tree is impressive, we see a tight heat between Frenchie Vincent Lartizen at the world’s biggest mushburger (Belharra) and Mike Parsons at his old haunt, Cortes Bank. We boldly claimed in our May 2008 that Parsons’ wave was the biggest ever ridden. We stick to that claim and look forward to putting it to the caliper test. Can Parsons win the biggest wave award twice at the same spot? Our sources say yes, but damn, that Euro wave looks abnormally large. And you know the value of the Euro versus the dollar these days.

FIVE MONSTER PADDLE AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $15,000 – Photo/video prize $4,000)
Ben Andrews (San Francisco, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California on February 9, 2008.
(Photos by Jack English, Don Montgomery & Frank Quirarte. Video by Noel Robinson)
Mark Healey (Sunset Beach, Hawaii, USA) at Todos Santos, Mexico on December 5, 2007.
(Photos by A.J. Neste. Video by Alejandro Berger)
Greg Long (San Clemente, California, USA) at Todos Santos, Mexico on December 5, 2007.
(Photos by Jeff Flindt, Edwin Morales & Jason Murray)
Jamie Mitchell (Gold Coast, Australia) at Todos Santos, Mexico on December 5, 2007.
(Photos by Jeff Flindt, Rich McMullin & Fred Pompermayer. Video by Alejandro Berger)
Rodrigo Resende (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Todos Santos, Mexico on December 5, 2007.
(Photo by A.J. Neste. Video by Alejandro Berger)

SURFING’S TAKE: Who would have thought four waves from one session would be the nominees for this year’s biggest paddle waves? But that’s what happened at Todos Santos on December 5, when the biggest swell ever paddled prompted a few bold souls to huck themselves over the chunk. We see a few glaring omissions from the top 5: Kalani Chapman’s wave at Waimea is bigger than it looks, and little Nic Lamb’s bomb at Mav’s should’ve gotten a shot as well. Despite the Todos cleanup set, SURFING believes the winner should be the mysto man originally from Santa Barbara, Ben Andrews. The drop he made at howling offshore Maverick’s is heroic and he’s proven to be one of the best at the spot after only a few years’ experience. Not only should he win the Monster Paddle Award, but he should be a contender for Ride of the Year. Go, Ben! Wait, he already did. And he pulled it.

FIVE MONSTER TUBE PHOTO AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $5,000 – Photography prize $2,000)
Mike Brennan (Tasmania, Australia) at Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania on January 14, 2008.
(Photos by Andrew Chisholm & Hilton Dawe)
Carlos Burle (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Ghost Tree, California on December 4, 2007.
(Photos by Mike Jones, Jason Murray & Sebastian Rojas)
Manoa Drollet (Tahiti, French Polynesia) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on November 1, 2007.
(Photos by Jeff Flindt, Tony Harrington, Tim McKenna, Tim Jones & Fred Pompermayer)
Raimana {{{Van}}} Bastolaer (Tahiti, French Polynesia) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on November 1, 2007.
(Photos by Tim McKenna & Dave Nelson)
Ian Walsh (Paia, Hawaii, USA) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on November 1, 2007.
(Photos by Sean Collins, Tony Harrington, Tim McKenna, Dave Nelson & Fred Pompermayer)

SURFING’S TAKE: We hope it doesn’t go this route every year, but this is basically a mirror of the “Ride of the Year” category. And if Manoa should win Ride of the Year, he should win this one, too.

THREE SURFLINE BEST OVERALL PERFORMANCE AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $5,000)
Greg Long (San Clemente, California, USA)
Garrett McNamara (Sunset Beach, Hawaii, USA)
Jamie {{{Sterling}}} (Sunset Beach, Hawaii, USA)

SURFING’S TAKE: Sterling stuck some crazy drops this year and Garrett continues to be our favorite action hero, but Greg Long is writing a big-wave story of epic proportions. We feel he’s one of the top three paddle-in big-wave riders in the world right now. No one is as dedicated or as on it, and he’s doing it all for basically free. From his Mav’s win to his Todos paddle-ins to his Cortes craziness, Greg is the Man. And he’s always willing to share.

THREE BILLABONG GIRLS BEST PERFORMANCE AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $5,000)
Maya Gabeira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Jamilah Star (Santa Cruz, California, USA)
Jenny Useldinger (Oahu, Hawaii, USA)

SURFING’S TAKE: This one’s easy. Maya Gabeira remains the most dedicated and…er, ballsy female to date. From Mav’s to Waimea to giant Teahupo’o, she’s in the thick of it everywhere. Jenny got a few bombs at the Bay this year, but Maya is relentless. And she just keeps getting better.

Don’t just take our word for it. Be sure to stay tuned for the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Award party and ceremony on April 11.

For video and a full display of this year’s Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Award nominees, go to www.BillabongXXL.com.

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