Last night at the Billabong XXL Awards, for a few short hours the Grove of Anaheim became the testosterone capital of the world as fearless surfers accepted awards for risking life and limb in pursuit of riding massive waves. The many gargantuan rides nominated across seven categories looked like the stuff of nightmares, but each winner in the stacked field gained not only the hard-earned respect of their equally insane peers, but also a hefty paycheck.
It has truly been the year of the paddle, with the size of the nominated rides in the Monster Paddle category getting dangerously close to those that relied on ski-assistance. It's no surprise that Shane Dorian took the Monster Paddle Award after a fateful Jaws session that helped redefine what humans are capable of scratching into. Not only did Shane solidify a world paddle-in record by dropping in on the 57-foot behemoth, but he also managed to claim the Monster Tube Award for the very same wave.
Jaws truly delivered this winter, also providing Brazilian charger Danilo Couto with the winning wave for this year's Ride of the Year Award, and a $50,000 check. Danilo's winning paddle-in ride started with him landing a seemingly unmakable drop, his board wavering in the hard offshore winds before making it down the face and into a massive bowl. Couto expressed his gratitude for the award, and dedicated it to the late Sion Milosky.
Although the XXL Awards are a celebration of achievement in big-wave surfing, the ceremony held a different tone this year due to the passing of the Kauaiian charger Sion Milosky. Every surfer to win an award spoke about their fallen friend, with both Wipeout of the Year winner Mark Mathews, and Shane Dorian donating their prize money to the Milosky Fund. The Milosky family was also welcomed to the stage by standing ovation to accept the 2011 Surfline Men's Performance Award, on behalf of Sion for his incredible big-wave surfing accomplishments before his untimely passing.
The 2011 Billabong XXL Awards Results:
Billabong XXL Ride of the Year:
Danilo Couto (Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on February 8, 2011)
Monster Paddle Award:
Shane Dorian (Jaws, Hawaii, March 15, 2011)
Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Award:
Benjamin Sanchis (Belharra, France, February 16, 2011)
Monster Tube Award:
Shane Dorian (Maui, Hawaii, March 15, 2011)
Verizon Wipeout Award:
Mark Mathews (Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania, April 6, 2010)
Surfline Best Performance Award:
Billabong Girls Best Performance: