Big wave surfers Garrett McNamera and Nathan Fletcher were the big winners at the 2012 Billabong XXL Awards. Fletcher won the evening’s biggest prize, taking home a $50,000 check for winning the Ride of the Year Award and became the first surfer in the 12 year history of the Billabong XXL Awards to take home three awards in one night, also winning the Monster Tube Award and the Surfline Best Performance Award. Fletcher’s insane barrel at a heavy Teahupoo session in Tahiti on August 27, 2011 earned him the awards.
“I definitely didn’t expect to be up for an award, let alone three. It’s a huge honor. I didn’t expect that out of myself,” said Fletcher. “The wave at Teahupoo was pure fate. Somehow it just popped up and I was the one who got it. Somehow, I’m not sure, maybe Sion (former award winner, Sion Milosky who drowned in 2011), gave it to me. I can’t believe it. I guess it is all the result of hard work and I am very appreciative of that.”
Perhaps the biggest news story to come out of the Billabong XXL Awards, outside of the Foo Fighters making an appearance both as presenters and performers, was that Garrett McNamera’s historic big wave surfed at Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal on November 1, 2011 was officially recorded at 78 feet, setting a new world record. McNamera took home two Billabong XXL Awards, the Biggest Wave Award and the Wipeout of the Year Award for his cartwheeling fall at Jaws.
“It’s amazing we get to do what we do, I am so grateful. The world record doesn’t mean as much to me, this is for the town of Nazaré and Portugal and for all my family and friends there. To be able to give them something to be proud of and inspire them, a world record for this town doing it tough in the middle of nowhere is great,” said McNamara. “I didn’t want to get caught up in it all, but I have to tell you the truth, when they announced my name I got a bigger rush than probably on all the waves I rode this year.”
A panel of big wave surfing and photography experts determined the height of McNamera’s wave by careful analyzing the wave for careful measurements. The Guiness Book of World Records recognized the panel’s decision to give McNamera, who edged out the previous record holder Mike Parsons and his 77 foot wave at Cortes Bank, the world record.
Other surfers to win included Dave Wassell winning the Monster Paddle Award for paddling into Jaws, and Maya Gabeira winning the Billabong Girls Best Performance Award. Click here for a complete gallery of the Billabong XXL Awards. Complete list of winners with video highlights of nominated waves below.
2012 BILLABONG XXL BIG WAVE AWARDS RESULTS
SONY XPERIA RIDE OF THE YEAR WINNER:
Nathan Fletcher (San Juan Capistrano, California, USA) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on August 27, 2011. ($50,000)
Video by Simon Saffigna ($5,000)
SECOND PLACE: Ryan Hipwood (Gold Coast, Australia) at Cloudbreak, Fiji on July 12, 2011. ($5,000)
THIRD PLACE: Greg Long (San Clemente, California, USA) at Puerto Escondido, Mexico on May 19, 2011. ($1,500)
FOURTH PLACE: Jeff Rowley (Torquay, Victoria, Australia) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on January 30, 2012. ($1,500)
FIFTH PLACE: Garrett McNamara (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal on November 1, 2011. ($1,500)