The nominees have been revealed for the 2014 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards, and – as expected – the focus is on the huge swells that hammered the European and Hawaiian coastlines and splashed big wave surfing across mainstream headlines worldwide. Nominees run the gamut from past champions like Shane Dorian of Hawaii, Grant Baker of South Africa and Carlos Burle of Brazil, all the way to emerging stars like Andrew Cotton of England, Gautier Garanx of France and Francisco Porcella of Italy. Portugal, Australia, California, Mexico and Tahiti are also well represented by either surfer nationality or surf spot location – making this the most international field in the 14-year history of the XXL event.
Watch this years ‘Biggest Wave of the Year’ Nominees:
The Billabong XXL Awards competition window closed on March 19 with the start of spring, with every wave ridden at every big wave break around the world in the past 12 months up for consideration. The five biggest or best in each of the key categories have now been identified based on the photographic evidence, and the winners will be crowned at a gala awards show at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California on May 2, with over $120,000 up for grabs across seven diverse event categories. Photographs and video of all the nominated rides can be viewed by visiting the event website at www.BillabongXXL.com.
Watch the Billabong XXL Worst Wipeouts of 2014 Nominees:
The extraordinary weather conditions of the last year have helped to push the spotlight back toward the Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Award (where jet-ski assisted tow-ins are allowed). The main beneficiary of the massive storm action this winter was Europe, where three different swells in three different months produced three strong nominees for the biggest wave of the year – Brazilian Carlos Burle and Englishman Andrew Cotton at Nazaré, Portugal plus the unheralded Basque surfer Gautier Garanx at Belharra, France. Also in the top five are a pair of waves from the first major tow day in Hawaii in half a decade, featuring Italian transplant Francisco Porcella and local legend Ian Walsh at Jaws on the island of Maui. Numerous media outlets have speculated that the existing Guinness World Record mark for the Largest Wave Ridden (Unlimited) of 78 feet could be in peril of falling once the judging process is completed.
At least one record has already been set – that being the number of photographers capturing nominated images this year. Andrew Cotton’s headline-grabbing wave ridden off the lighthouse fort at Praia do Norté, Nazaré, Portugal during the “Winter Storm Brigid” swell was nailed by no less that 12 photographers. All twelve are presented on the BillabongXXL.com site with each image revealing a slightly different nuance of Cotty’s intensely-documents ride of a lifetime.
And while raw size does count, it is the ultimate level of performance that is rewarded in the video-oriented Ride of the Year category that carries $50,000 for the winner and another $14,500 for the other place-getters and videographers. This year all five nominees are paddle-in waves, reflecting the sport’s general trend toward its traditional approach, with three rides taking place at Jaws on Maui, featuring 2013 ROTY winner Shane Dorian from the Big Island and two young upstarts from Maui: Billy Kemper and Shaun Walsh (brother of XXL nominee Ian). Providing more international flavor to this year’s Ride of the Year nominee list are South African Grant “Twig” Baker at Dungeons in Cape Town and perennial standout Greg Long (San Clemente, California) at Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
Nominees for the biggest paddle-in wave included three more Jaws moments featuring veteran Hawaiian Mark Healey, underground Oahu charger Aaron Gold, and Australian hellman Mark Mathews. Also in the mix is Grant Baker for a wave at Sunset in South Africa and Shawn Dollar (Santa Cruz, CA) for a ride at Mavericks, south of San Francisco, California. Baker is the only surfer with two nominated waves this year, and Dollar is the current Guinness Record holder for Largest Wave Ridden (Paddle In).
Watch the Best Waves of 2013:
The nominees for the Tube Award are skewed toward the Southern Hemisphere, with three great rides through the notorious barrel machine of Teahupoo, Tahiti, putting Hawaiian Koa Rothman and local surfers Alain Riou and Raimana Van Bastolaer all into contention. Australia is in the running as well, with Laurie Towner (Angourie, New South Wales) scoring a huge cavern at Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania. Rounding out the top five is Kai Lenny (Paia, Hawaii) who was photographed deep inside another yet giant curl at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii.
Several judging panels will review the nominated rides and the winners will be revealed at the invitation-only Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards party at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California on May 2, 2014. The show will be webcast that night on BillabongXXL.com with on-demand viewing on YouTube the following day.
The nominees for 2014, in alphabetical order:
FIVE BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $50,000 – Video prize $5,000)
Grant Baker (Durban, South Africa) at Dungeons, South Africa on August 6, 2013.
(Video by Corné Snyders.)
Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Hawaii on March 2, 2014.
(Video by Alexey Orlov.)
Billy Kemper (Haiku, Hawaii) at Jaws, Hawaii on January 19, 2014.
(Video by Elliot Leboe.)
Greg Long (San Clemente, California, USA) at Puerto Escondido, Mexico on June 7, 2013.
(Video by Mike Mortimer.)
Shaun Walsh (Kuau, Hawaii) at Jaws, Hawaii on January 19, 2014.
(Video by Brad Scott.)
FIVE PADDLE AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $20,000 – Photo/video prize $4,000)
Grant Baker (Durban, South Africa) at Sunset, South Africa on August 5, 2013.
(Photo by Corné Snyders.)
Shawn Dollar (Santa Cruz, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California on January 21, 2014.
(Photos by Nikki Brooks and Richard Hallman. Video by Tony Harrington.)
Aaron Gold (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Hawaii on January 23, 2014.
(Photos by Erik Aeder, Bidu and Fabio Dias. Video by Tracy Leboe.)
Mark Healey (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Hawaii on November 13, 2013.
(Photos by 808 Photo, Ademir Da Silva, Sofie Louca and Mike Neal. Video by Shanti Berg.)
Mark Mathews (Maroubra, New South Wales, Australia) at Jaws, Hawaii on January 23, 2014.
(Photo by Fred Pompermayer. Video by Curt Myers.)
FIVE BILLABONG XXL BIGGEST WAVE AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $10,000 – Photo/video prize $4,000)
Carlos Burle (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 28, 2013.
(Photos by Renato Campos and Tó Mané. Video by Jorge Leal.)
Andrew Cotton (Braunton, North Devon, United Kingdom) at Nazaré, Portugal on February 2, 2014.
(Photos by Bruno Aleixo, Andre Botelho, Renato Campos, Vitor Estrelinha, Jorge Figueira, Jeff Flindt/Red Bull Surfing, Holger Menzel, Pedro Miranda, Zeca Neto, Jose Pinto, Miguel Prata and Joao Pedro Rocha. Video by Jose Pedro Gomes.)
Gautier Garanx (Bayonne, France) at Belharra Reef, France on December 22, 2013.
(Photos by Eric Bellande, Benoit Brecq, Manuel de Lara and Stephane Salerno. Video by Richard D’Alton.)
Francisco Porcella (Sardegna, Italy) at Jaws, Hawaii on January 22, 2014.
(Photos by Bidu, Mike Neal and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Elijah Crowell.)
Ian Walsh (Haiku, Hawaii) at Jaws, Hawaii on January 22, 2014.
(Photos by Bidu, Ademir Da Silva, Fabio Dias, Dooma, Richard Hallman, Mike Jones, Mike Neal, John Patao and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Curt Myers.)
FIVE TUBE AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $5,000 – Still photography prize $2,000)
Kai Lenny (Paia, Hawaii) at Jaws, Hawaii on January 19, 2014.
(Photos by Doug Falter and Rusty Russell.)
Alain Riou (Tahiti, French Polynesia) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on May 13, 2013.
(Photos by Camila Neves, Fred Pompermayer and Ben Thouard.)
Koa Rothman (Sunset Beach, Hawaii) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on May 13, 2013.
(Photos by Bidu, Mike Jones, Tim McKenna, Nelly/SPL, Fred Pompermayer, Raihei Tapeta and Ben Thouard.)
Laurie Towner (Angourie, New South Wales, Australia) at Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania on April 12, 2013.
(Photo by Andrew Chisholm.)
Raimana Van Bastolaer (Tahiti, French Polynesia) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on May 13, 2013.
(Photos by Mike Jones, Camila Neves, Fred Pompermayer and Ben Thouard.)