Is this big enough? Mark Mathews won last year's Oakley Surfing Life Big Wave Awards'

We’re now down to six Biggest Wave nominees, four Biggest Paddle-In contenders, and six possible Biggest Slabs from the 50-plus entries registered with organisers over the past eight months.

In just 10 days, Mark Mathews will know if he’s repeated his Biggest Wave win from 2009, or if he’s taken out the new category of Biggest Slab – or both! He’s been nominated in two divisions for a wave he rode off south-west Oz in June last year.

‘When I saw the wave coming I knew it was going to be the biggest barrel I’d ever ridden. I’m so stoked I made it through to the finals two years in a row, not to mention in two categories! In Australia, we get big waves, but absolutely huge barrels, almost leading the world in that arena, so it’s great to have a reward (Biggest Slab) for riding those waves!’

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Mitch Crews at the 2010 Oakley Pro Junior in Australia

Mitch Crews (Currumbin, Qld) today claimed the 2010 Grade – 5, AUD $30,000 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Oakley Pro Junior in a dominating fashion ahead of Narrabeen’s (NSW) Davey Cathels.

Held in clean 1m waves at Main Beach on Queensland’s (Australia) North Stradbroke Island, Crews defeated Cathels in the final of the prestigious professional junior event, registering a combined two-wave total of 16.30 points (out of a possible 20) to Cathels’ 13.00.

“The monkey is finally off my back,” said Crews. “I won a pro-junior about three years ago as a grommet and have been struggling to get over that final hurdle again for ages, so I’m just super stoked.”

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Chris Bertish riding the Mavericks giants

After more than three months of waiting, contestants and fans alike were rewarded for their patience with an historic day for big-wave surfing, as Chris Bertish etched his name in Mavericks lore and was crowned champion of the 2009/2010 Mavericks Surf Contest Presented by Sony Ericsson and Barracuda Networks.

With waves described by the competitors as some of the biggest they have ever paddled into, and in front of a crowd of approximately 50,000 fans, Bertish outlasted Shane Desmond, Anthony Tashnick, Dave Wassel, Carlos Burle, and Kenny “Skindog” Collins to claim the Jim Beam Jersey and a $50,000 check from prize purse sponsors Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision and Barracuda Networks.

The total prize purse of $150,000 was the largest in big-wave surfing history, with $50,000 going to Bertish, $25,000 to Desmond in second, $15,000 to Tashnick in third, $10,000 to Wassel in fourth, $8,000 to Burle in fifth, and $6,000 to Collins in sixth.

Video #1 - Free surfer rides giant wave before the Finals

Video #2 - Spectators washed away by giant wave at Half Moon Bay

Video #3 - Surfing view from the hills of Half Moon Bay

Video #4 - Boat view of Greg Long's wipeout at Mavericks

2008 Champion Greg Long summed up the day perfectly while passing along the Jim Beam Champion’s jersey to Bertish. “The entire book of big wave surfing was rewritten today.” Bertish, a native of Cape Town, South Africa was overcome with emotion, adding, “It was an honor just to be here today and paddle out with these other guys. I flew 36 hours to be here, and this has been a dream come true.”

The competitors were greeted by huge waves as soon as the Contest began, with heats one through four being won by Dave Wassel, Peter Mel, Alex Martins, and Ryan Seelbach respectively. “These were definitely the biggest waves I have ever paddled into,” said second-place winner, Shane Desmond.

After two memorable semi-finals which were won by Anthony Tashnick and Carlos Burle, the hard-charging Bertish pulled through in the final round.

The Gnarly Head Wines “Gnarliest Drop” Award, given to the surfer who pulls off the most impressive drop of the day, was won by Anthony Tashnick. Commenting on the opportunities that today’s conditions offered, Tashnick said, “There are no excuses on a day like today, it was perfect. Whatever you wanted, you could take.”

The Jay Moriarity Award, given to the surfer who best exemplifies the spirit and passion that Jay was famous for, was won by Dave Wassel. Wassel, who thanked the Half Moon Bay locals for accepting him, was also blown away by today’s conditions. “It was undoubtedly the largest surf any paddle-in contest has ever seen.”

Despite the roughly 50,000 spectators in attendance, the Save The Waves Green Team was able to minimize the impact that the fans had on the area surrounding this world-famous break.

As in years past, Green Team staff members separated trash and educated fans on how to reduce their carbon footprint. Added Maverick Environmental Manager Joao de Macedo, “Mavericks is a special place for all of us, and we’re thrilled to say that even with all of today’s foot traffic, the Save The Waves Green Team was able to ensure that this pristine condition.

Source: Mavericks Surf Contest