Bonga Perkins 

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Longboard Tour (WLT) crowned Bonga Perkins (HAW), 36, the 2008 ASP World Longboard Champion at the Oxbow World Longboard Tour event at San Onofre State Beach over fellow finalist Antoine Delpero (FRA), 23. This year’s title is Perkins’ second ASP World Longboard Championship, with the other win coming in 1996.

The Oxbow World Longboard Tour sponsors two ASP WLT events, with the top seed at series’ end claiming the title of ASP World Longboard Champion. The other stop on ASP WLT is held in Anglet, France.

Perkins proved to be unstoppable throughout the event’s entirety and defeated Delpero 16.95 to 13.90 in the Final. The 2008 ASP World Longboard Title came down to the wire, with both surfers having to win the event in order to earn longboarding’s top honors, but it was Perkins who jumped out to an early lead in the Final, holding his lead throughout the heat.

“I’ve been bridesmaids and thirds and fourths so many times now and I was hoping that my second title would come soon before I bow out,” Perkins said. “I can’t event speak, I’m blown away right now.”

Perkins, who entered the Oxbow World Longboard Tour event rated third, issued powerful rail-to-rail surfing throughout the contest, consistently compiling some of the highest heat totals. The Hawaiian did the same in the Final, netting two eight-point rides in the opening minutes of his heat.

“I’ve been doing it almost every heat, trying to sneak a couple in and get a couple under my belt, and they ended up being my stronger waves every heat,” Perkins said. “That 30 minute heat felt like a long time. I felt like I was holding my breath.”

Despite his amazing performance throughout the contest, Delpero was unable to put a stop to the polished Hawaiian veteran. Delpero’s second place finish at San Onofre State Beach also puts him at No. 2 in the world behind Perkins.

“I just could not find a wave in that heat,” Delpero said. “I would have liked to win, but that’s life, that’s competition."

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Surfing Iceland 

This October saw cold water adventurer and Fox Surf team rider Josh Mulcoy hit ice cold gold in Iceland. Josh’s trip, which was featured on Surfline, included Friends of Fox Timmy Turner and Sam Hammer.

Throughout their respective careers all three surfers have established reputations for braving harsh conditions in search of perfect surf. Good thing wetsuit technology has evolved by such large leaps and bounds since the first suits hit the market in 1953.

These days at frosty surf destinations like Iceland, 6mm of high tech neoprene allows surfers like Josh Mulcoy to survive and thrive in potentially deadly cold water temperatures (hypothermic water temperatures are generally considered anything below 50 degrees Fahrenheit).

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Twiggy in action 

Winter may still be technically a month and a half away in the Northern Hemisphere, but the ninth-annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy is off to an all-time start thanks to numerous major swells all around the surfing world over the last seven months.  The brand-new BillabongXXL.com event website is brimming with both video footage and still photos of some of the biggest waves and best rides in the history of the event.

Among the most dramatic images are those from South Africa's Cape Peninsula region.  Durban surfer Grant "Twiggy" Baker is clearly among the XXL front-runners for the 2008/09 year with a massive wave at Tafelberg Reef as photographed by Brenton Geach and Alan van Gysen in early August.  Baker is also an early favorite for the Monster Paddle Award along with James Taylor for a huge wave they shared during the Red Bull Big Wave Africa event two weeks earlier.  Another epic Ride of the Year contender from the Red Bull BWA is the successful tube by California's Greg Long.  Long's ride stands out as one of the biggest paddle-in tubes of all time and must be seen to be believed.

The current event window continues through the Spring Equinox on March 20, 2009, with the annual gala awards ceremony scheduled to take place in Southern California during the second week of April, 2009 and will be featured as a one-hour show on the ESPN networks.  The Billabong XXL event features over $130,000 in cash and prizes in an array of categories and is open to all qualified and invited surfers at every big wave break around the world, based on the photographic evidence.

Australia has been another hotbed of XXL production in recent months.  Western Australia's Outer Bommie reef produced some massive walls on several days, some clean and some quite ugly, with Damien "Taco" Warr and Mark Matthews among those scoring key rides.  And Tasmania's notorious Shipstern Bluff has outdone itself once again, with a pair of astonishing rides by emerging big wave star Ryan Hipwood (Gold Coast, Australia) among the potential nominees for Ride of the Year at this early juncture.

But there are also some superb entries from unlikely locations -- such as the first ever XXL submissions from Puerto Rico.  Shot on the very first day of spring (and the first day of the annual XXL cycle) the images of Carlos Cabrero at Tres Palmas by Steve Fitzpatrick are clearly the biggest waves ever ridden in that part of the Atlantic Ocean.

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