Garrett McNamara Withdraws from XXL

Garrett McNamara pulls his famed Nazare ride from the running at big-wave awards show

Garrett McNamara Nazare XXL

Garrett McNamara in Nazaré, Portugal. Photo: Tó Mané courtesy of Billabong XXL

After catching one of the most publicized waves of the year in Nazaré, Portugal, Garrett McNamara gained international fame as news of his ride swept through the global media. As claims that McNamara had surfed the first 100-foot wave spread, surfers on both sides of the aisle debated the merit of the ride. But in an unforeseen turn, McNamara recently announced that he has decided to pull his ride from the XXL Awards.

While the exact size of the ride is still under debate, it was largely assumed that the ride would be a shoo-in for a win in one of this year’s Billabong XXL Award. In an interview with SURFER, McNamara cited his opposition to the event’s alcohol sponsor, Pacifico Beer, as his primary motive for removing his ride.

"I decided to pull my ride from the event because I'm opposed to the event having an alcohol sponsor. I've been thinking a lot about what we really contribute to this world, and at the end of the day you've got to make choices," said McNamara. "I don't want kids to think that they're going to be able to accomplish their goals in life by drinking alcohol. That's only gonna make your goals harder to accomplish and I didn’t want to be associated with that."

McNamara went on to explain that he never personally entered his wave into the competition.

"The way it works is that the photographers actually send in their photos to the awards, not the surfer. I never actually submitted my wave. So when Bill Sharp [Director of the XXL Awards] called me the other day, I told him that I wanted to pull my wave."

Sharp confirmed that McNamara had indeed removed his ride from the event, and all subsequent photos of the wave have been pulled from the site. Had the wave been up for an award, it would have been studied and given an approximate height value by XXL panelists.

"Garrett, through his wife Nicole, confirmed to me yesterday that he preferred to not participate in the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards this year and I understand and respect his decision," said Sharp. "As a result, all photos depicting him were removed from the website."

In addition to the brief interview McNamara gave SURFER, he also released a statement explaining why he chose to pull his wave from the event. Notwithstanding his aforementioned opposition to the XXL's alcohol sponsor, McNamara said that "…We also decided to pull my waves from Nazare out of the Billabong XXL because I do not ride for Billabong and I did not go out that day and surf for a world record or to win any XXL prize money. I was out there because I live for big waves, it's what I love to do! It is not necessary to have a Billabong panel measure it. There have already been quite a few educated professionals who have measured it anywhere between 60-110 feet!”

In the past, McNamara has been a consistent standout at the XXL Awards, having won or been nominated in every category at the event in the past decade.