The 2011 Billabong XXL Awards

All the winners from the biggest night in big-wave surfing

Danilo Couto hangs on for the most incredible drop of his life to earn the 2011 Ride of the Year Award. Photo: Shimi

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.

Danilo Couto, stoked with his Ride of the Year and oversized check. Photo: Van Swae

A Couto family affair, onstage after accepting the Ride of the Year Award. Photo: Van Swae

Mr. and Mrs. Dorian might as well be the President and First Lady of big-wave surfing. Photo: Van Swae

In the year of the paddle, Shane Dorian was always a few strokes ahead of the pack, winning the Monster Paddle and Monster Tube Awards. Photo: Van Swae

Brothers-in-arms Mark Healey and Greg Long look poised to charge the red carpet. Photo: Ellis

French charger Benjamin Sanchis took the Biggest Wave Award for a monster that he rode earlier this year in Belharra, France. Photo: Ellis

Keala Kennelly took the Girls Performance Award for her phenomenal big-wave exploits over the last year at Nelscott Reef in Oregon, and Puerto Escondido. Photo: Van Swae

Carlos Burle and Maya Gabeira, holding it down for Brazilian big-wave surfing at the Grove of Anaheim. Photo: Van Swae

Surf legend and Big-Wave World Tour Director Gary Linden was stoked to see the incredible rides nominated for this year's awards. Photo: Van Swae

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:
Sion Milosky

Billabong Girls Best Performance:
Keala Kennelly