XXL Global Big Wave Awards
Topping the field, Gautier Garanx, from Bayonne, France, rode the biggest wave of the year according to the XXL panel of judges. Caught at Belharra Reef in southwest France on Dec. 22, 2013, he beat out a stacked field of challengers. "To be here is a dream. All my idols are here, the superstars, and tonight I'm with them. That wave was easily the biggest of my life," said Garanx from the podium.
When it comes to women and big waves, Keala Kennelly has been pushing boundaries for years. Claiming yet another XXL Award, she was honored this year for her notable performances in any and all conditions, but most notably at Teahupoo in Tahiti. "It's like winning the Oscars, especially in front of all the other big-wave guys," said Kennelly. "Last year I won this award, cashed the check and three days later I was in Teahupoo for a big swell. It was the first time I'd been back since my face injury there. To come back and overcome my fear and get the best wave was a huge personal triumph for me."
Taking time out of the night to recognize newly crowned Big Wave World Champion Grant "Twiggy" Baker, the new relationship between the XXL Awards and the ASP was already visible. "All I ever wanted to do is travel and surf and that's what this world title means to me," said Baker. "I'm feeling more competitive than ever. I'd love to have a heat with Kelly Slater in 25-foot-plus waves. He'd probably still beat me but at least I'd have a chance."
Hawaii's Mark Healey was honored with the Paddle-in Wave of the Year. Wrangling this beast at Jaws on Nov. 13, 2013, he considers it the biggest wave he's ever paddled into.
While it didn't take Biggest Wave honors, Andrew Cotton's ride off the coast of Nazare, Portugal, was no small feat.
Shawn Dollar at Mavericks on Jan. 21 was a contender for paddle-in ride of the year. Although he was topped by Healey's effort at Jaws, the waves Dollar gets himself into every year at Mavericks put him among the top ranks of big-wave surfing.
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Ian Walsh has yet to win an XXL award. Nominated in the Biggest Wave category for this ride at Jaws, somehow the Maui native seems to always just miss out on taking the top prize, but it's certainly not for lack of trying.
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