Friday, April 29, 2011: Anaheim, California. The XXL awards unfolded at Anaheim’s Grove theatre, where big wave pioneers convened to watch some of the latest and greatest chargers push the limits of both tow-in and paddle surfing. Hundreds of the event’s invited guests hooted and hollered as madmen from around the world slid down huge mountains of water on 3 giant screens where the true scale of the waves were definitely illuminated.
It was no surprise that Shane Dorian dominated this year’s awards with his massive paddle in at Peahi. He earned both Monster Tube and Monster Paddle prizes for his World Record setting 57-foot bomb at Maui’s premiere big wave spot. Although not winning the $50,000 prize for Ride of the Year, Dorian walked away with an impressive $20k, which he promised a portion would go to the MiIosky family. As many already know, the late Hawaiin charger Sion Milowsky tragically passed away this year during a massive day at Mavericks, California. To everyone’s best wishes he was posthumously honored with this year’s Surfline Mens Performance Award, which his family graciously accepted with an emotional speech. It was a great way to honor the waterman who inspired so many people on the North Shore and the surfing community in general. His passing was a sobering reminder of the dangers of big wave surfing and his presence was greatly felt, honored, and remembered throughout the evening.
The biggest purse of the night went to Danilo Couto who took the Ride of the Year award for yet another impressive Peahi paddle in. The Brazilian’s $50k wave included a gravity-defying airdrop down a monumental windswept face. You could picture Brazilians everywhere rejoicing as he accepted the award. Other winners included Frenchman Benjamin Sanchis’ enormous tow-in at Belharra France snagging Biggest Wave and Keala Kennelly’s impressive Puerto tube receiving the Girls Best Performance Award. Mark Mathews was awarded the Verizon Worst Wipeout award for his hair raising spill at Shipsterns where he was unable to outrun a chunky behemouth after miraculously landing two consecutive inside ledge drops. While no one really aims for this award, the accolade seemed well deserved for such a brave yet disastrous feat.
The crowd at the event included waterman and legends from both inside and out of the industry. Tony Hawk, Tito Ortiz and Jenna Jameson, were some of the celebs to show face and even the lead singer of Incubus, Brandon Boyd, made it on stage to help present an award. Although unfortunately not winning an award for one of his impressive big waves, Mark Healy was hands down best dressed at the event showing up in a beige leather cowboy jacket with tassels running throughout. The jacket was so impressive that even the event’s MC, Sal Masekela, couldn’t resist recognizing it in the midst of presenting on stage. Throughout the night many a cocktail and Monster energy drinks were consumed and respect was rightly given to those with the cojones to raise the bar of surfing. Even though a somber presence lingered in the room, the event was a great way for the big wave community to come together and honor both present and past surfers.
For more information or to watch the winning waves and nominees head to http://www.billabongxxl.com/
The event will premiere Sunday, May 1 on Fuel TV