Updated: December 31, 2010, 11:58 AM ET

2010: The year in surfing

Beyond just Slater and Irons, surfing saw epic swells and growth outside the water

By Jake Howard and Jon Coen
ESPN Action Sports

A few of the moments, men, and woman who made 2010 an astonishing year in surfing.

Surfing dominated media both endemic and mainstream toward the end of the year, based on Kelly Slater's historic accomplishments and Andy Irons's tragic passing. But those weren't the only surfers making headlines. From unexpected appearances in disaster zones to Greg Long's command of big wave podiums, it was a historic year. Our picks for ESPN Action Sports's "Big List" can be found here. Meanwhile, here's the rest of the story ...

Long Shot
The winter of 2009/10 was one of the best in memory. Seemingly every week the North Pacific unleashed a torrent of super-sized swells, and right there in the maelstrom was San Clemente-based hellman Greg Long. He started his streak by winning the 2009 Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau at a maxed out Waimea Bay, "a childhood dream," according Long. He then parlayed his winnings into helping fund a big-wave event at Todos Santos in Mexico, and additionally played a very influential role in getting the fledgling Big Wave World Tour off the ground. Whether donning a contest jersey or out tracking surf with his partners in crime, every week he was seemingly somewhere new. He chased what most considered the swell of the decade down to Dungeons in South Africa, he tempted fate in Hawaii, on the West Coast he stood tall at both Todos and Maverick's, and when a massive earthquake struck Chile he heeded the call to arms and joined several others in an impromptu aid mission. All told, he was a busy human, and more than a little bit relieved when the ocean finally relented.

Surfers Paddle Into The Breach
Maybe it's their hands-on approach to travel or their gratitude for the ability to take part in such a unique pursuit, but a few waveriders have been essential in contributing aid to corners of the surfing world recently struck with disaster. The ball really got rolling in 2004 and '05 with relief efforts after the Indonesian tsunami, but unfortunately surfer-staffed organizations have had an unusual high number of opportunities to give back in the past year. When a 7.7 earthquake and tsunami hit the Mentawais Islands, Surf Aid had boots on the ground and the Surfers Medical Association worked to improve lives in villages frequented by surfers in search of waves. When Haiti was rocked by a brutal earthquake, Jon Rose and Waves for Water provided the UN with lightweight, easy-to-build clean water filtration systems for areas that had no access to clean water. SIMA's Humanitarian Fund exceeded its $200,000 goal at the Liquid Nation's Ball in August, and when South America was rocked by another tsunami, Save the Waves was integral in providing supplies to Chileans. Did you support them this year? Did you read about their efforts or just click through to Jordy's rodeo flip? A little karma and a few bucks go a long way, fella.

Teahupoo Goes XXL
Maybe it's their hands-on approach to travel or their gratitude for the ability to take part in such a unique pursuit, but a few waveriders have been essential in contributing aid to corners of the surfing world recently struck with disaster. The ball really got rolling in 2004 and '05 with relief efforts after the Indonesian tsunami, but unfortunately surfer-staffed organizations have had an unusual high number of opportunities to give back in the past year. When a 7.7 earthquake and tsunami hit the Mentawais Islands, Surf Aid had boots on the ground and the Surfers Medical Association worked to improve lives in villages frequented by surfers in search of waves. When Haiti was rocked by a brutal earthquake, Jon Rose and Waves for Water provided the UN with lightweight, easy-to-build clean water filtration systems for areas that had no access to clean water. SIMA's Humanitarian Fund exceeded its $200,000 goal at the Liquid Nation's Ball in August, and when South America was rocked by another tsunami, Save the Waves was integral in providing supplies to Chileans. Did you support them this year? Did you read about their efforts or just click through to Jordy's rodeo flip? A little karma and a few bucks go a long way, fella.

Tim Jones/Billabong Teahupoo went so nuts, Shane Dorian didn't even win the XXL with this bomb.

The Ride Of The Year
In a winter ripe with oversized surf, it was South Africa's Grant "Twiggy" Baker that went the biggest. Bagging the bomb of the season on February 13 during the historic Maverick's Contest, Baker earned himself the Billabong XXL Ride of the Year award and a cool $50,000 for the effort. He then promptly dedicated the win to his native South Africa and the crew at the infamous for keeping him honest all these years. Baker already has a slew of XXL awards lining his mantel, but we're guessing there was something special about this one.

Brazil Rising
Just like their economy, Brazilian surfers are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with on the international stage. Several years ago Adriano De Souza arrived on the ASP World Tour scene, touted as potential world champ material. Turns out, there was a slew of red-hot talent waiting in the wings. This year rookie Jadson Andre gave the Brazilians something to cheer about when he upset Kelly Slater at the Billabong Pro in Brazil. And speaking of the Billabong Pro in Brazil, for years the tour stop has been the red-headed step child of the Dream Tour, but as Billabong media director Jim Kempton states, "This event is finally going to get the kind of attention and sponsorship it deserves. The surf community in Brazil is one of the biggest, most passionate in the world, and we're happy to help support and event like this." Next year De Souza and Andre will be joined on tour by Raoni Monteiro, Heitor Alves and Alejo Muniz. Needless to say, they're going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Brett Goes Back-To-Back
Winning the U.S. Open of Surfing is no easy feat. Winning it twice in a row is nearly impossible. Actually, until Huntington hero Brett Simpson went back-to-back this year it'd only been done one other time. "Last year was a dream come true, but this just amazing," said an elated Simpson in his post win press conference. "To have the support of all these amazing fans here in Huntington, and the support of Hurley, I mean, what they've been able to do here with this contest is remarkable. I'm just so stoked right now."

JoliNeco Padaratz, lost in the ASP reformatting shuffle.

The Dream Tour Dashes Some Dreams
The ASP is the only governing body in action sports to produce a legit world champion, with a format, criteria, and legacy going back decades -- but there's always room for improvement. Following a few years of grumblings from competitors, (and possibly a little fear of King Kelly inciting a "Rebel Tour") the Association of Surfing Professionals rolled out some changes. 2010 was the year to "transition" into the new format, which included a little extra coin to competitors; a benefits package, the implementation of a One World ranking system and most interestingly, the shaving of the tour from 45 surfers down to 32. The new format makes it possible to run events in less time (getting surfers in the better waves when swells are short) and increased marketability to larger audiences, since shorter events means a tighter focus on the marquee players. It also meant crushing the hearts and possibly the careers of the bottom 12 surfers when the cut-off happened following the Billabong Pro Tahiti in August. Some folks are all for it. Others expressed frustration over seeing careers potentially ended prematurely. The full effect of the format change won't be felt until the 2011 tour has run its course, but no matter what the changes hath wrought, one thing never changes: you can't make everyone happy.

One Monster Of A Hurricane
With waters of equatorial Atlantic steaming like a lobster pot last spring, scientists were warning of a hurricane season like the Armageddon (or perhaps 2005.) Water, wind, weather -- everything was pointing to a scalding season in the usually tepid Atlantic summer. Then June, July, and most of August went by with barely a fart through the Florida palms. But then the switch flipped on with 11 named storms in 40 days. The pride of the season was Hurricane Igor, an aptly-named monster with winds that reached up to 155 miles per hour. Every stretch of beach in the East got swell, no matter its latitude. Most of it was too much for average breaks, but the reefs, points, and bays from the Caribbean to the Grand Banks turned the long period swell into surf porn. Igor graced the Foster's Belmar Pro in New Jersey and positively lit up the Northeast. The tropical storm machine was so spent afterwards, it went on permanent vacation.

A November To Remember
Over the course of one week in Puerto Rico two world champions were crowned and one was found dead in a hotel room. The first week of November started off with Australia's Stephanie Gilmore claiming her fourth consecutive ASP Women's world title. Two days later, Andy Irons, who'd been struggling with a mysterious illness, opted to leave the island and fly home to Hawaii. He never made it. On November second he was found deceased in a Dallas, TX, airport hotel room. Needless to say, the surf world was shocked and stunned. The tragic news reverberated around the world. Four days later, after the Rip Curl Pro Search had taken time off to mourn the loss, Kelly Slater rode to victory, clinching a record tenth world title in the process. "It's obviously a mix of emotions," said Slater afterward. "It's been a crazy week with some real highs and lows."

Dumpster Diving

Channel IslandsThe board that made everyone think they could be like Dane.
In 2010, a phenomenon ripped through the surfboard industry faster than Dane Reynolds at Lowers, as Channel Islands dealers fought to keep "Dumpster Divers" on the racks. The Dumpster Diver accounted for an estimated 20 percent of all of Channel Islands models sold this year. It is, of course, the work-in-progress of ASP World Number Four and freesurf freak, Reynolds himself. Adored worldwide for an indifference to the competition circuit and industry rivaled only by his insane amount of talent, Reynolds is apparently some kind of savant, as well. As the story goes, Reynolds picked a fat and faded old board of Rob Machado's off the C.I. factory racks, (the "dumpster") loved it, and made some tweaks. The board, which features increased width, a single concave, shortened length, and a square tail, is accessible and increased Reynolds' status as a hero to the "Everyman" surfer. East and West Coast dealers have never seen anything like it -- no other surfer has been able to sell any specific model like this in most of our lifetimes. A nominee and for the Surf Industry Manufacturer's Association Surfboard of the Year Award, it's likely a shoe-in.

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