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Billabong Xxl Awards

By: Lindsey Gregory

Published: November 9, 2006

Those who love surfing speak of the sport as an opportunity to become one with Mother Nature at her fiercest, while others speak of the thrill of riding waves as high as a six story building.

So many people, in fact, chase the adrenaline rush of these massive waves that the sport has been converted into a specialized competition. For the past six years, the Billabong XXL competition has been awarding massive amounts of money to anyone who rides the most impressive waves.

Surfers have always chased the seemingly elusive perfect wave—a blue wall of water they can rip right through to the end. But the opportunity for making beaucoup bucks for big waves did not arise until 1998 when Taylor Knox—from Carlsbad, Calif.—caught one big wave and received $50,000. Since then, a multitude of wave-riding contests have sprung up, but the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards has set the standard.

For the past six years, the Billabong XXL awards have hosted an annual contest offering a large cash prize for riders who ride the biggest waves. The primary category is for the biggest wave ridden, with cash prize of $1,000 per foot of wave height with a minimum payout of $60,000.

The Billabong XXL awards also offer cash prizes in four other categories: Monster Paddle-In ($5,000); Monster Tube ($5,000); Best Combined Tow-Team Performance ($5,000); Surfline/Jay Morality Best Overall Performance ($5,000). The award ceremony is hosted the April at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, Calif. There also is a Monster Women's Award for biggest wave, worth $5,000.

In 2005, 48-year-old Dan Moore from Hawaii won first place at the Billabong XXL Awards, catching a 68-foot wave.
He rode the wave at Jaws along Maui's north coast in December 2004. While it did not break the world record, the Jaws wave did earn him a cash prize of $68,000. Also in 2005, Shane Desmond won first place for paddling into the biggest wave without using a jet ski. Jamilah Star won first place in the women’s round.

The contest is determined by examining surfers from every angle and aspect of photographic images. Many of the resultant images may resemble a cover shot of Laird Hamilton (one of several surf legends who does not support competitions like the Billabong XXL awards) on Surfer Magazine in an enormous faux wave from 1996, courtesy of Photoshop. Only ten years ago riding such a massive wave would be impossible, but the Billabong XXL awards have proven otherwise.

This definitely is not a competition for newcomers or amateurs. The Billabong XXL Awards are open by invite only, meaning competitors are already seasoned professional surfers. Newcomers may fare better at one of the many Billabong surfing camps. There are locations in Hawaii, Mexico, California and El Salvador, and though they are officially Billabong Surfing Camps, they are certainly not restricted to the young. They are open to children as well as the young heart.

Billabong Camps. 7 November 2006. <>
DiMartino, Jay. Dan Moore Wins XXL. About, Inc. 7 November 2006.
March Madness in Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards As CA Produces New Entries. 21 March 2005. Transworld Media. 7 November 2006.,20087,1040014,00.html/
Melekian, Brad. XXL stands for more than just big waves. 28 March 2006. San-Diego Union Tribune. 7 November 2006.