Surfing Life magazine's Oakley Big Wave Awards winners announced
Presented annually to riders of the biggest waves in Australian and New Zealand waters, the three award divisions -- Biggest Wave, Biggest Slab and Biggest Paddle-in Rides -- highlight surfers pushing their sport to the limit, with seemingly little concern for life, limb or notoriety.
Australia's Mark Mathews was the winner of the Biggest Wave category, for riding the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest wave of 2010 at a terrifying shallow rock reef ledge off southwestern Australia known as "The Right."
Matthews pronounced himself "stunned" and "over the moon" at his win -– his second Biggest Wave prize in three years of entries to the awards.
"To get deep in the barrel out there, you have to be in a position where you really feel like you’re too deep and you’re not going to make it," said Mathews. "It goes against your body’s natural survival instinct."
The Biggest Slab award went to Cale Grigson, from Western Australia, for his own fearsome ride at "The Right" -- one made more interesting by the presence of a great white shark, which cruised around the lineup from dawn to dusk. "In between waves we felt like we were dangling like some sort of human lure," said Grigson.
Biggest Paddle-in Ride was awarded to top pro junior surfer Dean Bowen for his ride off South Coast, New South Wales.
The award ceremony, taking place Thursday in Bondi, Australia, is the culmination of a nine-month challenge and showcases riders of the biggest waves in Australian waters from May 1, 2010, to Jan. 26, 2011.
-- Kelly Burgess
Video credit: Surfing Life