DANILO COUTO, SHANE DORIAN, BENJAMIN SANCHIS, AND KEALA KENNELLY
The eleventh annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards in Anaheim, California had a dramatic finish tonight. Danilo Couto from Brazil scooped top honors for Ride of the Year, winning $50,000 for a wave conquered at Jaws during the swell of the year.
"I'm prepared to die anytime. If I die at 40, if I die at 50 it doesn't matter," said Couto to a wildly cheering crowd. "I've been feeling really good for two months, ever since I caught that wave. "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."
Shane Dorian from the Big Island of Hawaii, officially surfed into the record books for riding a paddle-in wave judged to be 57 ft to win Monster Paddle Award. He also finished first for a giant tube ride at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on a monster wave that took everyone by surprise for its size and speed.
"It was an epic swell, a real late season swell. 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?"
Keala Kennelly a crowd favorite took the Girls Performance of the Year Award.
"It feels awesome to win; all the girls are really charging these days, so it feels great,” said Kennelly. “It's not an easy award to win. I've been nominated a bunch of times and tonight is the first time I've walked away a winner. Big Wave surfing is not all I do, it's not all I'm chasing. When I plan my year, I definitely want to chase some big swells, but I also want to surf perfect waves. This kind of thing is the icing on the cake!"
Ben Sanchis, flying all the way from France to attend the festivities, took top honors for the Billabong Biggest Wave Award.
"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.”
Sion Milosky, who had died earlier in the season, won the Surfline Best Men’s Performance Award and received a standing ovation as friend and previous winner Ken “Skindog” Collins paid an emotional tribute to him at the podium.
“We will remember you forever”, said Collins as he held his glass high in a toast to his friend and winner.
It was a night to remember for the nominees, the audience – and the whole surfing world.
"To catch a wave like that takes a lot of dedication, it takes a lifetime of commitment,” said Danilo Couto at the end of the ceremony. It takes a special family, a lot of friends backing you up; a lot of real people behind you. We've been towing in for years, we knew we could catch a wave like that. We've been looking for the biggest waves we can find, following our hearts. We have a tight crew, we work hard. No matter who wins the awards, we're already happy. Can we go bigger? For sure. It's just the matter of having the right day and being ready and being ready for any consequence. You just have to make every day special."
In all, over $130,000 in cash and prizes was awarded to the world's greatest big wave surfers in this edition of the Billabong XXL Awards fueled by Monster Energy. Verizon is the official communications provider and Toyota is the official vehicle of the event. Surfline.com is the exclusive surf forecast of the XXL. The event is sponsored by Surfing Magazine, Air Tahiti Nui and Contour.
Jesse Spencer & Maya Gabeira presenting Surfline Men's Performance Award
Billabong XXL Big Wave Results:
BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR SURFER WINNER (Surfer prize $50,000 - Plus Toyota Tacoma year lease)
BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR SURFER SECOND (Surfer prize $5,000)
BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR SURFER THIRD (Surfer prize $1,500)
BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR SURFER FOURTH (Surfer prize $1,500)
BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR SURFER FIFTH (Surfer prize $1,500)
BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR VIDEO (Surfer prize $5,000)
WINNER BILLABONG XXL BIGGEST WAVE AWARD
(Surfer prize $15,000 – wave was 67 feet)
WINNER BILLABONG XXL BIGGEST WAVE PHOTO AWARD
(Photographer prize $4,000 – wave was 67 feet)
WINNER MONSTER PADDLE AWARD
(Surfer prize $15,000 - wave was 57 feet, a new record!!)
WINNER MONSTER PADDLE PHOTO AWARD
(Photo/video prize $4,000 - wave was 57 feet, a new record!!)
WINNER SURFLINE BEST MEN’S PERFORMANCE AWARD
(Surfer prize $5,000)
WINNER WOMEN’S BEST PERFORMANCE AWARD
(Surfer prize $5,000)
VERIZON WIPEOUT SURFER AWARD
(Surfer prize $2,000)
VERIZON WIPEOUT VIDEO AWARD
(Photo prize $1,000)
MONSTER TUBE SURFER AWARD
(Surfer prize $5,000)
MONSTER TUBE PHOTO AWARD
(Photo prize $2,000)