Billabong XXL 

With only days remaining in the annual event cycle, new entries continue to arrive in record numbers for the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy.  Although California and Hawaii have suffered through an abnormally placid year, the rest of the planet has bridged the gap and then some, providing more than 450 pieces of visual evidence of the mammoth surf on the event website at BillabongXXL.com.

New video clips and still photos continue to arrive in all key categories of the event, including the Billabong XXL Ride of the Year Award, Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Award powered by Honda, Monster Tube Award and Monster Paddle Award.  Also featured are the Surfline Best Overall Performance Award and the Billabong Girl's Performance Award.  In total, over $130,000 in prize money will be awarded in the ninth annual edition of big wave surfing's top event.  The competition is open to all qualified, invited surfers at any surf break around the world over the course of a full year and is based on the photographic evidence.

In a year where many announced big wave contests did not take place due to insufficient swell, another record has been shattered concerning the number of surfing regions represented in the 2009 Billabong XXL Awards.  That list includes legitimate contenders from areas as disparate as Puerto Rico, Mexico, California, Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska, South Africa, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, Chile, Tahiti, Ireland, Spain, France and the Canary Islands.  Never before has a year of big wave surfing been acted out across a more global stage.

Although there remains only days before the event period concludes with the Vernal (Spring) Equinox on March 20, 2009, the world's big wave elite are still scanning the planet seeking any possible last-minute pulses of swell in locations like Chile, Mexico and Hawaii.  Regardless of any last second upsets, most top riders are already making plans to attend the gala Billabong XXL Awards ceremony on Friday, April 17 at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California.  While the 2000 seats at the Grove are invitation only, the entire evening's activities from Red Carpet arrivals to the final award will be broadcast during a live webcast at www.BillabongXXL.com and televised as a one-hour special on ESPN2 on the evening of May 29, 2009.

New this year is the Verizon Wireless Wipeout Award, an interactive category which will be decided by the public at large.  Surfing fans will have the opportunity to view video clips of five contenders on the event website and text in their vote for what they consider the most spectacular unsuccessful ride of the year.  Nominations in all categories will be announced on or about March 25, 2009.

In addition to all the latest entries in each category, full event details including formats, rules and archives of past XXL years can be seen at the event website at www.BillabongXXL.com.

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Joel Parkinson 

Joel Parkinson (AUS), 27, has won the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by LG Mobile, defeating fellow finalist Adriano de Souza (BRA), 22, in solid six-to-eight foot (3 metre) surf at Kirra.

After a 12-year hiatus, today’s action brought the ASP World Tour back to Kirra for the Finals of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Whilst it was not classic Kirra, the challenging conditions at the historic pointbreak offered churning barrels with massive scoring potential.

Parkinson, winner of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in 2002, was fearless from the outset in the hard-fought Final, collecting an excellent 8.83 out of a possible 10 on his opening ride, breaking his board in the process.

“That first wave was a good one but I came down funny on the floater and buckled my board,” Parkinson said. “I came in and just got energized when I heard the score and everyone on the beach really pumped me up. The crowd is awesome. There are so many people. Down here you don’t really see it, but from the water you can see the crowd on the hill and all along Coolangatta and even down Kirra Point. I could hear them roaring – it was amazing.”

The hometown favorite would return to the lineup to collect a bevy of high scores, including a 7.50 and an 8.17, before nailing his second perfect 10 of the day, pushing his heat total to an unsurpassable 18.84 out of a possible 20.

"I was thinking it has been a long time between drinks [ASP World Tour event wins],” Parkinson said. “Until the hooter blew, I didn’t know what emotion to feel. It’s the kind of thing where you’re surrounded by a lot of people and it’s not until you pull yourself back and you’re together with family and friends, that’s really when you feel all of your emotions. Right now I’m on a high and I’m buzzing, it will be a few hours to let it all sink in."

Parkinson now sits atop the ASP World Tour ratings, in excellent position for his 2009 campaign for the ASP World Title.

“There’s still a long way to go and there are a lot of dangerous surfers out there,” Parkinson said. “I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. It is a long year with a lot of stops [on the Dream Tour]. It is going to be a great year.”

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Joel Parkinson 

The Semifinalists of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by LG Mobile were decided today in pumping four-to-five foot (1.5 metre) waves at Coolangatta Beach.

The opening event of the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast utilized its third venue today, having used nearby Duranbah Beach for the opening rounds before returning the primary site of Snapper Rocks and finally to today’s Coolangatta Beach where the local boys dominated Round 4 and the Quarterfinals.

Mick Fanning (AUS), 27, former ASP World Champion and past two-time winner of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, was in devastating form this afternoon, defeating Damien Hobgood (USA), 29, in the Quarterfinals with the highest heat total of the day (an 18.53 out of a possible 20).

“It was a fun heat,” Fanning said. “I was lucky to get the jump on Damo [Damien Hobgood] at the start. I wanted to wait for a good opening wave and it came. On that 9.93, I went into it and saw it chandelier’ing so I reset my feet and just tried to hit it strong. It went all white and I was lucky it had an opening. It was pretty fun.”

Now into the Semifinals, Fanning will find himself battling Coolangatta stable mate Joel Parkinson (AUS), 27, for a spot in the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Final.

“Joel [Parkinson] and I have been great friends since we were little kids,” Fanning said. “It will be a really tough heat. We are always pushing each other. Sometimes it’s pretty and sometimes it’s ugly, but I’m definitely looking forward to it. I don’t really know what the conditions will be like tomorrow. All of the maps that I look at said it was going to be a lot bigger than we have seen today. It could be 100-foot or it could be two-foot.”

Parkinson, current ASP World No. 4 and past winner of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast (2002), was near unstoppable today at Coolangatta Beach, defeating Chris Davidson (AUS), 31, and C.J. Hobgood (USA), 29, in Round 4 and the Quarterfinals respectively.

“My Quarterfinal felt like it was a little bit bigger than my heat this morning – a lot more water moving,” Parkinson said. “My strategy stayed the same, but more effort was needed throughout the heat. It was hard to stay in position, the current out the back is so strong!”

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