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Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Updated: March 27, 7:17 PM ET
Nominees Announced for Billabong XXL Awards

By Jake Howard
XGames.com

North, south, east and west: All points of the compass are represented in this year's Billabong XXL Awards, as nominees submitted big-wave surfing videos from around the globe. Videos will be judged and voted upon with the winners to be announced on May 3.

The gauntlet for the XXL Awards' various prizes was thrown down on June 8, 2012, when Tavarua's Cloudbreak stole the surf world's collective attention. With the swell hitting during the waiting period of the Volcom Fiji Pro, the ASP's elite contingent were relegated to watching the best in big-wave surfing dominate the lineup. Reef McIntosh and Dave Wassel find themselves nominated for Ride of the Year and Tube of the Year honors for their efforts on that historic day in Fiji. Ramon Navaro has been nominated for the Tube of the Year award.

"I thought Ian Walsh's wave was the best wave I've ever seen, then Reef's was just crazy and then Wassel's wave was sick, it is so hard to pick. The waves ridden today were just out of this world," noted ASP World Tour vet Damien Hobgood, who participated in the session.

"It was disturbing what those guys were doing, it was a totally different league ... I felt like an idiot out there in the lineup," added fellow tour surfer Yadin Nicol.

As summer faded to fall, an early season northwest swell slammed Hawaii, and with it came a session at Jaws that changed how surfers look at paddling into big waves. Shane Dorian stole the show, and X Games Real Surf competitor Matt Meola got his fair share too, but the sessions on Maui over Oct. 8 and 9 only set the tone for what could be in store for the upcoming winter season.

Taking off on a beast of a wave at Cortes Bank, Santa Cruz's Shawn Dollar has earned three XXL nominees, including the Pacifico Paddle Award.

"It seems like every session now we're left wondering how the bar could possibly get pushed any higher, and then something happens and it just keeps going," told Greg Long, who has been nominated for Ride of the Year for his part in it all. "In this case the swell happened very early in the season, setting a benchmark for everything to come, so that's makes things really interesting this year. I think everybody at Jaws was left wondering what's next."

The last major swell event of 2012 occurred across the Pacific at Cortes Bank on Dec. 21. While Santa Cruz's Shawn Dollar would bag the biggest wave of the expedition, it was Long's near drowning that captured headlines.

"Having trained for extreme breath-holding, at no point did I allow myself to panic or lose confidence that I was going to survive this incident," said Long after being released from a San Digeo hospital. "I do, however, fully acknowledge that I did exceed my limits of endurance, and that there will always be elements of risk and danger that are beyond my control while surfing waves of any size."

After the South Pacific, Hawaii and the West Coast demonstrated what they're capable of, at the end of January it was the Atlantic's turn to get into the rotation. To the north Mullaghmore Head in Ireland gave Danilo Couto a shot at another XXL Award as he's been nominated for Biggest Wave honors. The day also provided virtual unknown Irishman Peter Conroy with a shot at a Tube of the Year award. And while that would have been enough to put Europe on the big-wave map for the year, it was what happened next in Portugal that got the world talking. On Jan. 28, the day after the Mullaghmore session, the same swell arrived on the shore of Nazaré, Portugal. Garrett McNamara made international news by allegedly riding a 100-foot wave. While McNamara insists that the wave is somewhere between "60 and 110 feet," on Mar. 4 he withdrew his entry into the XXL Awards.

"We decided to pull my waves from Nazare out of Billabong XXL because I do not ride for Billabong and I did not go out that day and surf for a world record or to win any XXL prize money," said McNamara.

Danilo Couto
Biggest Wave nominee Danilo Couto standing tall in the fray at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland.

"Also one of my main reasons for withdrawing is due to the sponsorship of the Billabong XXL by an alcohol company [Pacifico]. I feel very strongly that we, as athletes, should not endorse alcohol. We are sending the wrong message to the general public," McNamara added.

Nevertheless, Kealii Mamala, McNamara's tow partner, and Antonio Silva, a Portugese surfer, have been nominated for the Biggest Wave Award.

For the moment the big-wave season is officially over. The Billabong XXL Awards will take place in a month's time, and with so many options and exceptions, it's going to be interesting to see what the judging panel makes of it all.

FIVE BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $50,000 -- Video prize $5,000)
Shawn Dollar (Santa Cruz, California, USA) at Cortes Bank, California on December 21, 2012. (Video by Steve Kennedy.)
Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Hawaii on October 9, 2012. (Video by Elliot Leboe.)
Greg Long (San Clemente, California, USA) at Jaws, Hawaii on October 10, 2012. (Video by Bruno Lemos.)
Reef McIntosh (Kauai, Hawaii, USA) at Cloudbreak, Fiji on June 8, 2012. (Video by Talon Clemos.)
Dave Wassel (Kaneohe, Hawaii, USA) at Cloudbreak, Fiji on June 8, 2012. (Video by Nick Pollet.)

FIVE PACIFICO PADDLE AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $20,000 -- Photo/video prize $4,000)
Grant Baker (Durban, South Africa at Cortes Bank, California on December 21, 2012. (Photos by Pat Stacy. Video by Neil Goss.)
Shawn Dollar (Santa Cruz, California, USA) at Cortes Bank, California on December 21, 2012. (Photos by Robert Brown, Rob Gilley, Greg Huglin, Frank Quirarte and Pat Stacy. Video by Jason Murray.)
Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Hawaii, on October 9, 2012. (Photos by Erik Aeder, Richard Hallman, Bruno Lemos and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Jace Panebianco.)
Matt Meola (Haiku, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Hawaii on December 31, 2012. (Photos by Bruno Lemos and PhotoBrent. Video by Bruno Lemos.)
Makua Rothman (Sunset Beach, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on October 9, 2012. (Photos by Eric Aeder, Sean Hower, Bruno Lemos, and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Elliot Leboe.)

FIVE BILLABONG XXL BIGGEST WAVE AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $10,000 -- Photo/video prize $4,000)
Danilo Couto (Bahia, Brazil) at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland on January 27, 2013. (Photo by Laurent Pujol,. Video by Sebastian Muller.)
Shawn Dollar (Santa Cruz, California, USA) at Cortes Bank, California on December 21, 2012. (Photos by Robert Brown, Rob Gilley, Greg Huglin, Frank Quirarte and Pat Stacy. Video by Neil Gross.)
Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Hawaii, on October 9, 2012. (Photos by Erik Aeder, Richard Hallman, Bruno Lemos and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Bruno Lemos.)
Kealii Mamala (Haleiwa, Hawaii) at Nazaré, Portugal, on January 28, 2013. (Photos by Bruno Aleixo, Luis Bento, Greg Huglin, To Mane, Wilson Ribeiro and Ricardo Bravo Santos. Video by Greg Huglin.)
Antonio Silva (Cascais, Portugal) at Nazaré, Portugal on January 28, 2013. (Photos by Bruno Aleixo, Diogo D'Orey and Ricardo Bravo Santos. Video by Greg Huglin.)

FIVE PACIFICO TUBE AWARD NOMINEES
(Surfer prize $5,000 -- Still photography prize $2,000)
Peter Conroy (Miltown, Malbray, Ireland) at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland on January 21, 2013. (Photos by Roo McCrudden.)
Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Hawaii, on October 9, 2012. (Photos by Erik Aeder, Richard Hallman, Bruno Lemos and Fred Pompermayer.)
Reef McIntosh (Kauai, Hawaii, USA) at Cloudbreak, Fiji on June 8, 2012. (Photos by Fred Pompermayer, Rusty Russel and Tom Servais.)
Ramon Navarro (Pichilemu, Chile) at Cloudbreak, Fiji on June 8, 2012. (Photos by PhotoBrent and Rusty Russell.)
Dave Wassel (Kaneohe, Hawaii, USA) at Cloudbreak, Fiji on June 8, 2012. (Photos by Brian Bielmann, PhotoBrent, Ted Pompermayer and Tom Servais.