Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards: time to measure giants

The entry period for the 2012 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards is over. The Northern Hemisphere leaves winter and enters a warmer temperature. Fortunately, the world's best waves and surfers will also be getting heated up for the moment of decisions.


Nominations will be announced before the end of this month, with the awards presentation set for Friday, May 4 at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California before an invitation-only crowd of 2,000 surf world VIPs.

The Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards feature an array of categories including the $50,000 Ride of the Year, Monster Paddle, Monster Tube, XXL Biggest Wave and the Verizon Wireless Wipeout of the Year. There are also "world champ" awards for the Surfline Best Overall Performance (male) and the Billabong Girls Best Performance (female).

The 12th annual edition of the event features over $120,000 in cash prizes for the surfers and photographers. The selection of five finalists in each category is currently being determined via a straw vote of the "XXL Academy," a group of over 400 surfers and photographers who have entered the competition over the last dozen years.

According to Billabong XXL event director, there is a philosophical discussion underway amongst the competitors themselves about what constitutes the best of big wave surfing this year.

"This year it comes down to what should matter most - Total Completion vs. Total Commitment. On many of the most talked-about waves this year the surfer did not stay on top of his board to the very end of the shoulder, although it may have been incredibly close", says Bill Sharp.

"The rules say a surfer should complete 'the meaningful portion of the wave' but exactly what is meaningful depends on who is looking at it. And that's why the selection of the nominees and voting for the winner are in the hands of the surfers and photographers."

What isn't being debated is this season's status as one of the most spectacular in the history of surfing. "Biggest ever" or "heaviest ever" swells were challenged by surfers using jet ski tow-ins at a wide array of the world's legendary big wave breaks, including Teahupoo in Tahiti, Nazare in Portugal, Mullaghmore Head in Ireland and Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania.

Epic paddle-in sessions also gained global attention at spots like Jaws in Hawaii, Maverick's in California, Cloudbreak in Fiji and Mexico's Todos Santos and Puerto Escondido.