Oakley Big Wave Awards
Tonight, Wednesday 11th February, the winners of this year's 2014-15 Oakley Big Wave Awards were crowned at a star-studded gala at the Manly Wharf Bar in front of fans, celebrities and industry figureheads. With 11 out of 12 finalist nominees from Western Australia, the state pulled off a real hat-trick this year with three out of four categories won by monstrous water walls from Australia's west coast.
Taking home the premier Biggest Wave award – plus the $20,000 winner's cheque – was Jarryd Foster, an underground charger from Western Australia, now living in Tasmania, who took on a huge wave at Cow Bombie in south-west WA. The Biggest Wave category came down to a tight, cross-country battle between two surf spots far from the safety of the Australian coastline; Pedra Branca off the coast of Tasmania – tackled by East Coast big wave luminary, Justen -Jughead' Allport, and Cow Bombie – which saw Jarryd through to success this evening. 'It was such a special day of waves," said Jarryd. 'It was the biggest I had seen out at Cow Bombie and definitely the cleanest it gets at this size. I had to scramble to borrow a wetsuit and borrow some boards and luckily for me I got towed into this wave, on all borrowed gear, and it's turned out to be the biggest! I think I will have to share the prize with the local West Australian lads, and of course shout myself a surf trip!"
Perennial favourite and long-time Big Wave Surfing aficionado, Mark Visser from the Sunshine Coast, was awarded the Biggest Paddle-In and a $5,000 winner's cheque in tonight's awards, beating legends such as the two time winner -Camel'.
Mark commented: 'At the start, I was out there completely by myself and I was getting smashed. It's tough out there, you're so far out to sea there's no real reference points to line yourself up with. On this wave, I thought I was too deep, but I saw the line I wanted to take and just went anyway. I wasn't interested in towing, I wanted to tackle Cow Bombie without the temptation to tow, and in this case, I'm very glad that I did!"
Western Australia's Chris -Crossy' Ross won the Biggest Slab category by catching the thickest and heaviest wave in the cold, sharky and dangerous waters of Australia's south west coast at The Right. Crossy is known for being out at The Right charging death-defying waves whether there are cameras in the water or not, thus this $5,000 victory for a man who loves nothing more than tackling huge surf, is well-deserved.
'If you fall off in the wrong spot at The Right you can go over the ledge and it can pull you down thirty feet or more, bust your ear drums and you might not know how to get back to the surface. The lip could seriously tear your head off out there. I'm stoked to finally take the Slab Prize, I'll be back out there next swell trying to nail it again, for sure!" said -Crossy'. This year the awards saw the introduction of an additional winning category, the Viewer's Choice Award. For the first time in the awards' 13-year history, Oakley and Surfing Life handed over the voting power to the surfing community. While Justen Allport narrowly missed out on the Biggest Wave category win this year, his peers and fans alike chose his ride as their favourite and crowned him the winner of the Viewer's Choice category. Justen, nickname Jughead, not only receives the kudos, respect and admiration from the surfing community, but an expenses-paid trip for two to the luxurious, perfect-surf-blessed Macaronis Resort in the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia awaits him in 2015.
Oakley Big Wave Awards have come to highlight a side of surfing that's way beyond both the recreational mainstream and the professional competitive arena – a zone where seemingly normal people take seemingly outlandish risks, with seemingly little concern for fame or renown.