James McKean: scary stuff

The winners of the Australia's Surfing Life Oakley Big Wave Awards will be announced at Simmer on the Bay, Dawes Point, Sydney, on February 8th, 2012. The finalists of the Biggest Wave, Biggest Slab and Biggest Paddle-in Ride have been named.


Big waves and stunning images make the decisive list of Australia's most prestigious big surfing challenge. Mark Mathews, Marti Paradisis, Jamie Mitchell, Ryan Hipwood, Chris Shanahan, Ben Rufus, Damien Warr and Tyler Hollmer Cross are some of the surfers that may lift the title and grab the $35,000 in prizemoney.

"We felt the surfers themselves were the best judges of each other’s performances," explained event co-ordinator Nick Carroll. "They know these wild surf zones better than anyone else and they have a clear view of the challenge involved. We were stoked with the way they responded! They’ve come up with an epic group of finalists, that’s for sure."

An elite international panel of big wave judges will pick the outstanding wave rides amongst multiple incredible entries. Jamie Mitchell, a big wave charger and 10-time winner of the Oahu-Molokai paddleboard race, secured his monster Paddle-In entry at Cow Bombie, a surf spot that is usually tackled with jetski assistance.

"Usually the left-hander out there is the only paddleable wave, but that day I through caution to the wind and paddled into one of the rights and after that it all just came together," Jamie told Australia's Surfing Life.

"My big wave, the one that has made the finals, felt exponentially bigger than my other waves that day. It was such a perfect day, everyone was going for it!"