Regarded as the Oscars of big wave surfing, the 2010 awards recognize the biggest and heaviest waves ridden and documented over the past twelve months. 2300 surf-stoked fans packed the Grove Theater in Anaheim to witness mind-blowing rides from Chile, Europe, South Africa, Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, California and French Polynesia.
In what proved to be one of the best years in big wave surfing history, over 1000 images and videos were submitted for judging. The awards are decided by a panel of 400 surfers, selected surf media and big wave aficionados.
Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker from Durban, South Africa, won the Ride of the Year, the premiere category in the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy, at a glittering function in Anaheim, California early morning (Europe Time).
Baker, 36, pocketed US $50 000 (approx. R375 000) for his incredible ride on an enormous wave that he paddled into during the Mavericks Surf Contest at Half Moon Bay in California on 13 February 2010. “This is for my country, South Africa! We have the FIFA World Cup later this year and we’re a proud nation,” Baker said in his victory speech after thanking the El Nino weather conditions for producing the most amazing year of big waves around the planet, his fellow nominees for their incredible performances and confessing that he did not have a speech prepared as he did not expect to win.
“Thanks to all the guys back at Dungeons (in Cape Town) and everyone here tonight. Drinks are on me!” Baker added as he celebrated on stage with the giant cheque.
Sebastian Steudtner (Nuremberg, Germany) finished first for a giant ride at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on a monster wave that took everyone by surprise for its size and speed.
“It feels good; it’s what I live for,” said Steudtner. “I moved to Hawaii when I was 16; a Hawaiian family took me in and taught me how to surf. I am honored to win this thing.”
Shawn Dollar officially surfed into the record books for riding a paddle-in wave judged to be 55ft+ (17m) to win the Monster Paddle Award. “It’s like winning a Gold Medal or winning the World Series,” said Dollar. “It’s been the most important thing in my life for many years and I’ve accomplished it – phenomenal!”
The 2010 Billabong XXL Awards were webcast in over a dozen countries with a worldwide audience that broke records for a surfing awards event. The awards ceremony was webcast live on BillabongXXL.com and simulcast on EXPN.com.