Billabong XXL 

The National Weather Service today issued its latest report on the weather phenomenon El Niño, and their assessment may be great news for big wave surfers around the world.  According to the statement from the Climate Prediction Center, continued warming of equatorial waters over the past several months has verified the weather phenomenon is well underway and adds that "nearly all of the dynamical models predict a moderate-to-strong El Niño during the Northern Hemisphere winter 2009-10."

This forecast coincides with today's launch of the new event website for the 2010 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy.  The site features video and still photos of numerous massive waves from swell events worldwide over the last four months, including epic rides in Mexico during the south swell which rocked the west coast of North America less than two weeks ago.  The Billabong XXL Awards honors the biggest and best rides from anywhere in the world based on the photographic evidence.  The competition runs through the end of winter in March with the winners announced (and over $130,000 in prize money handed out) at a gala awards presentation each April.

El Niño conditions can affect the global climate in a number of ways including suppressing the development of Atlantic hurricanes and bringing drought-like dryness to Indonesia.  But to surfers a strong El Niño can mean supercharged storms in the North Pacific Ocean, bringing extraordinary high surf episodes to Hawaii and the West Coast of the US.  Some of the biggest waves ever recorded were produced during the hallmark El Niño seasons of 1969/70, 1982/83 and 1997/98.


Ronald Reyes 

Big board performances became a key factor in their nations standing as the Longboard division opened today at the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games fueled by Monster Energy.

Under cloudy skies, sometimes pouring rain and choppy, shifting beachbreak, the big favorites along with a few small determined dark horses advanced to the next round in the most difficult conditions yet.

Underdogs like New Zealand and Venezuela who already have surfers qualified through to the next round, kept them competitive with advancing longboarders. Venezuela's team gathered as a group every time they had a heat in the water, chanting, cheering and waving their flags like men possessed.

“The enthusiasm from the Venezuelan team is so motivating,” said Ronald Reyes. “The support from my coach and my country makes a big difference.”


Carlos Muñoz 

Despite a magnificent run by dark horse Venezuela, host country Costa Rica's Carlos Muñoz called all his chips in today to vault into contention for a World Title at the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games fueled by Monster Energy.

With conditions ranging from blazing sunshine to pouring rain, and tides at both high and low extremes, the 16-year-old Muñoz managed to have an interference call in two consecutive heats – and still win both of them, a feat that in most cases is considered almost impossible.

“When you lose your leash 3 times, get two interference calls, and still take the highest scores, that's beyond just great surfing” said former US Champion team member Jimmy Hogan, who now lives in Costa Rica. “That's pure entertainment!”

The young Tico has brought huge crowds to their feat and electrified his teammates as he blazed through heats that eliminated WQS and ASP World Tour pros. Only a handful of other teams have qualified more than two team members into the next qualifying round and Muñoz' performances are a big factor in keeping the Costa Ricans in the race.