Danilo Couto: primus inter pares |Photo: Mike Neal - NealStudios.net

Danilo Couto has conquered the 2011 Billabong XXL "Ride of the Year". Couto took the main big wave surfing title with his Jaws ride. The Brazilian surfer from Bahia surfed a 20-metre wave and won the prestigious event after reaching the finals for the fifth time.

"I've been feeling really good for two months, ever since I caught that wave," said Couto. "I couldn't sleep for days, knowing I had done something so special. To be a part of surf history, to have an impact ... it's special."

Benjamin Sanchis, from Hossegor, scored the "Biggest Wave" trophy after surfing a giant wall of water at Belharra, France, on February 16, 2011. "I'm not only happy for myself, but I'm stoked for Europe", said a beaming Sanchis. "This is a big win and I'm really proud, I'm really happy. The wave, Belharra, is about 30 minutes from my house. It wasn't even a big day for that spot, it gets bigger for sure."

The "Monster Paddle" and the "Monster Tube" winner was Shane Dorian and his Peahi wave. He takes home a $50,000 prize money. "It was an epic swell, a real late season swell,” recalled Dorian. "I didn't really catch a lot of big waves throughout the whole year. I was just stoked the swell came my way, near my house in Maui, and we scored. The Monster Tube award is pretty special. I mean every surfer wants to get tubed, right?"

The "Wipe Out Of The Year" went to Mark Mathews, after a dangerous fall at Shipstern Bluff. Kauai surfer Sion Milosky - who tragically drowned last month at Maverick’s in Northern California -posthumously won the Surfline Best Men’s Performance Award for a string of outstanding high surf sessions.  Milosky was the first top-level big wave surfer to die while surfing big waves since the XXL awards were established in 2000.

The Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards 2011 granted Danilo Couto a $50,000 check. The event acknowledge the achievements of the world's finest surfers in the biggest waves, anywhere in the world.

BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR SURFER WINNER:            
(Surfer prize $50,000  -  Plus Toyota Tacoma year lease)
Danilo Couto

BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR SURFER SECOND:
(Surfer prize $5,000)
David Scard

BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR SURFER THIRD                  
(Surfer prize $1,500)
Mark Healey

BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR SURFER FOURTH
(Surfer prize $1,500)
Michael Brennen

BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR SURFER FIFTH
(Surfer prize $1,500)
Benjamin Sanchis

BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR VIDEO:
(Video prize $5,000)
Elliot Leboe

WINNER BILLABONG XXL BIGGEST WAVE AWARD
(Surfer prize $15,000 – wave was 67 feet)
Benjamin Sanchis

WINNER BILLABONG XXL BIGGEST WAVE PHOTO AWARD
(Photographer prize $4,000 )
Bastien Bonnarme

WINNER MONSTER PADDLE AWARD
(Surfer prize $15,000  -  wave was 57 feet, a new record!!)
Shane Dorian

WINNER MONSTER PADDLE PHOTO AWARD
(Photo prize $4,000)
Batel Shimi

WINNER SURFLINE BEST MEN’S PERFORMANCE AWARD
(Surfer prize $5,000)
Sion Milosky

WINNER BILLABONG GIRLS BEST PERFORMANCE AWARD
(Surfer prize $5,000)
Keala Kennelly

VERIZON WIPEOUT SURFER AWARD
(Surfer prize $2,000)
Mark Mathews

VERIZON WIPEOUT VIDEO AWARD
(Photo prize $1,000)
Andrew Chisholm

MONSTER TUBE SURFER AWARD
(Surfer prize $5,000)
Shane Dorian

MONSTER TUBE PHOTO AWARD
(Photo prize $2,000)
Bruno Lemos

Watch the best waves of the year.