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Category: Australia

Surfing Life magazine's Oakley Big Wave Awards winners announced

 

The winners have been announced in Australia's Surfing Life magazine Oakley Big Wave Awards.

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

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Video credit: Surfing Life

 

Surfing Life magazine's Oakley Big Wave Awards finalists announced

Surfer Cale Grigson is one of the finalists in Surfing Life magazine's Oakley Big Wave Awards.

The finalists have been announced in Australia's Surfing Life magazine Oakley Big Wave Awards.

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.

"People are constantly asking what possesses us as surfers to ride waves that could potentially kill," entrant Shaun Wallbank said. "I think it's a natural progression as an athlete that one would strive to better themselves in their chosen field."

The award ceremony, taking place Feb. 17 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 January 26, 2011.

Entries can be viewed online at www.surfinglife.com.au/bigwaveawards/entries-2010.

-- Kelly Burgess
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Photo: Surfer Cale Grigson is one of the finalists in Surfing Life magazine's Oakley Big Wave Awards. Credit: Calum Macaulay


Teenage global sailor Jessica Watson completes her solo-circumnavigation, becoming youngest to do so

Jessica Watson, 16, works with the rigging as she sails past the finish line at the entrance to Sydney Harbor in Sydney, Australia, capping off a nearly 23,000 nautical miles voyage. Watson crossed the finish line of her round-the-world journey, becoming the youngest person to sail solo, nonstop and unassisted around the world.

Global sailor Jessica Watson took her first steps on terra firma at Australia's Sydney Harbor on Saturday (Friday evening in the U.S.), completing her solo-circumnavigation odyssey at the same place she left seven months ago.

Amid an estimated crowd of 50,000 cheering, pink-flag waving fans and well-wishers, the 16-year-old Australian stepped off her 34-foot pink sailboat, Ella's Pink Lady, for the first time in 210 days.

After crossing the finish line at Sydney Heads, Watson was joined on board by fellow round-the-world sailors Jesse Martin, who in 1999 became the youngest to sail solo around the world unassisted, and Mike Perham, currently the youngest to sail solo around the world assisted, and made her way down the harbor, docking at the Man O' War jetty on the eastern side of Sydney Opera House. 

On hand to greet Watson were her parents, relatives, friends, sponsors and her shore team, along with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally.

Her last day at sea was not exactly smooth sailing -- winds forecast at up to 45 knots made for choppy conditions on the final stretch for Watson.

It’s not the first time Watson has battled the elements during her 23,000 nautical mile voyage. She faced 40-foot waves, lightning storms and gale-force winds during her journey, which took her northeast through the South Pacific and across the equator, south to Cape Horn at South America's tip, across the Atlantic Ocean to South Africa, through the Indian Ocean and finally around Southern Australia.

Watson has also endured controversy and critics from start to finish.

Her parents were harshly criticized for letting their daughter go off alone on such a potentially dangerous journey.

The World Speed Sailing Racing Council, the international sailing body that monitors around-the-world-sailing record attempts, no longer assesses claims for the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe, so Watson, while becoming the youngest person to have sailed around the world, alone and unassisted, without stopping, will set no official record.

And, about a week and a half before the end of her journey, some in the sailing world came forward to claim that Watson has not sailed far enough to meet the criteria required for an around-the-world voyage.

Watson, though, has completed a journey-of-a-lifetime, and accomplished a remarkable achievement she will never forget, and for that she deserves to be celebrated. Congratulations are in order for Jessica Watson, for achieving her goal of sailing around the world nonstop, solo and unassisted, before her 17th birthday. There likely aren't many who recognize their dreams at any age, let alone that young.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Jessica Watson, 16, works with the rigging as she sails past the finish line at the entrance to Sydney Harbor in Sydney, Australia, capping off a nearly 23,000-nautical-miles voyage. Watson crossed the finish line of her round-the-world journey, becoming the youngest person to sail solo, nonstop and unassisted, around the world. Credit: Rob Griffith / Associated Press

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Jessica Watson is on the last days of her around the world sail

Australian sailor Jessica Watson poses on Ella's Pink Lady in Sydney before her October, 2009 departure on a voyage around the world. Australian teenager Jessica Watson is now just days from completing her quest to solo-circumnavigate the globe. When the 16-year-old arrives at Sydney Harbor on Saturday and disembarks Ella's Pink Lady at the Sydney Opera House, she will become the youngest person to have sailed around the world, alone and unassisted, without stopping.

On her blog, Watson states that the weather has turned, with thunderstorms and freezing-cold southerly winds. On Wednesday, the wind was gale force but has since eased off to 30 knots.

Watson's excitement is obvious -- she writes that it's like the day before Christmas except she doesn't remember getting this excited about Christmas.

She also shares some of the things she is going to miss once she is back on land:

The first thing is pretty obvious, I'm going to miss getting up and going sailing every day! I'm going to miss being out of range of my annoying brother! I'm going to miss doing things at my own pace and singing at the top of my voice without clearing the room.

I'm going to miss the kick I get from overcoming challenges by myself, flying along in the dark. A new sunset every night and the time I always take to watch it. I'm going to miss watching the waves and sea. I know it's been nearly 7 months and I'm still not bored by it. The tumbling white tops when it's windy and the glassy reflections when it's not. I'm going to miss seeing Albatross circle around Ella's Pink Lady and beanie days for when finding a hair brush is just too much trouble!

Tens of thousands of people -- including 30 family members plus fellow round-the-world sailors Jesse Martin and Mike Perham -- are expected to converge on the Sydney Opera House to welcome Jessica home, 210 days after her departure. 

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Australian sailor Jessica Watson poses on Ella's Pink Lady in Sydney before her October 2009 departure on a voyage around the world. Credit: Greg Wood / AFP / Getty Images

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Global sailor Jessica Watson may set no record, but she will still achieve her dream

16-year-old Jessica Watson on her yacht, Ella's Pink Lady, in May, 2009. Watson left Sydney, Australia, October 18, 2009 on her non-stop, unassisted circumnavigation.

Australian teenager Jessica Watson is less than two weeks from completing her quest to solo-circumnavigate the globe. When the 16-year-old arrives at Sydney Harbor on the recently announced date of  May 15 and disembarks Ella's Pink Lady at the Sydney Opera House, she will become the youngest person to have sailed around the world, alone and unassisted, without stopping.

She will, however, be setting no record.

The World Speed Sailing Racing Council, the international sailing body that monitors around-the-world-sailing record attempts, no longer assesses claims for the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe.

Some go a step further, claiming that Watson has not sailed far enough to meet the criteria required for an around-the-world voyage.

Rob Kothe, SailWorld.com editor, told Australia's Nine News that "questions had been asked what record she was going for," saying that sailing experts had long known that the route in question would not qualify as a full circumnavigation.

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Teenage sailor Jessica Watson reaches final leg of her nonstop solo-circumnavigation

JW 24 April 1 After a week of rough seas and large swells, global sailor Jessica Watson has rounded the southeast cape of Tasmania and is now heading north to Sydney, Australia, on the final leg of her quest to solo-circumnavigate the globe.

With 22,000 of the 23,000 nautical miles under her belt, the 16-year old Australian is expected to complete her voyage in the next couple of weeks, becoming the youngest to sail around the world, alone and unassisted, without stopping.

Here's one of Watson's latest posts on her blog:

Good news. Ella's Pink Lady and I have made it around the South East Cape of Tasmania and we're now headed north on the final leg to Sydney!

We passed well clear of land, in the dark and with not the nicest conditions. But I still got a big kick out of it. 

I never expected rounding Tasmania to be much of a big deal, but all of last week's struggles made finally getting around the cape 10 times sweeter. (Insiders tip, jumping up and down in a 5 metre swell isn't a good idea. ouch!) There's no letting the guard down yet, but it's great to be back in to more familiar waters.

I'm also thrilled to be headed north into warmer temperatures again. OK, so it's not really that cold down here. mostly I'm just complaining. But with a bit of water on your hands, this wind only takes a few minutes to make your hands go numb when working on deck.

After all my worrying, this time we got lucky and the expected weather didn't get as bad as it might have. It's been pretty breezy for the last few days, but gusted to not much more than 40 knots last night. The wind is sitting on about 25 knots at the moment and the swells are starting to die off as we pass into the lee of Tasmania.

Once readjusted to being on land again, Watson has many things she plans to do, including finishing school and getting her driver's license. Watson also wrote that she's "desperate to do a bit of traveling. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but I mean the sort of traveling where you stop places and meet people."

An announcement on Watson's expected arrival date to Sydney Harbor should be made later this week. She'll likely be meeting a lot of people then.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Jessica Watson on April 24, as the wind and sea was rising. Credit: Jessica Watson

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Four men to set sail in re-creation of Captain Bligh's mutiny on the Bounty voyage

People gather on a dock to bid farewell to the four-man crew as they set sail in their 25-foot open deck boat, attempting to re-enact the 4,400-mile voyage of Captain William Bligh of the HMS Bounty after he was cast adrift by mutineers in 1789.

The mutiny on the Bounty has been memorialized in novels, movies (one of which won an Academy Award for best picture of 1935) and other media. Occurring aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty on April 28, 1789,  commanding officer William Bligh and a crew of 18 were cast adrift on a small boat by mutineers.

Now, 221 years later, a four-man crew plans to set sail on a 25-foot, open-deck vessel, trying to re-create the 4,400-mile epic voyage from Tonga to West Timor.

Led by Australian adventurer Don McIntyre, the Bounty Boat Expedition will be setting out Wednesday. Joining him will be fellow Australian David Bryce, Hong Kong businessman David Wilkinson and 18-year-old Chris Wilde, a student from Great Britain, who hope to complete the journey in 40 days.

Like Bligh, they will not be using any modern-day navigational systems, instead relying on original 18th century octant, sextant and pocket watches, plus nautical tables, a boat compass, telescope and rope knot meter. They will have no modern charts, watches, nautical almanacs or compass lights on-board.

The provisions will also be similar to those which Bligh and his companions had -- hardtack, beef (instead of pork), water, rum and wine. Though they will also pack nuts, raisins and museli bars, the crew hopes to be able to gather a supply of fruit, vegetables and coconuts in Tonga as well as catch fish and supplement their drinking water with rain water.

A big difference, however, is the size of the boat being used on this modern expedition. Though a couple of feet longer, it's only about half the volume size of Bligh's vessel, presenting a greater risk of capsizing.

One look at the vessel, pictured above, brings the realization of what an adventure just everyday living will be during the weeks ahead for these swashbucklers. Best of luck to all aboard -- hopefully McIntyre won't have a mutiny on his hands.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: People gather on a dock to watch the four-man crew in their 25-foot open-deck boat, in which they will attempt to reenact the 4,400-mile voyage of Capt. William Bligh of the HMS Bounty after he was cast adrift by mutineers in 1789. Credit: Linny Folau / Associated Press

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Stephanie Gilmore wins ASP Women's World Tour Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic

  Stephanie Gilmore remains on track for her fourth consecutive ASP Women’s World Title after defeating Sally Fitzgibbons in the Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic in Sydney, Australia.

Top-ranked surfer Stephanie Gilmore continues her march toward a fourth consecutive ASP Women's World Tour title, coming from behind Monday at the Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic to beat fellow Australian Sally Fitzgibbons on 4- to 6-foot waves.

After four consecutive lay days, the waves finally shaped up enough at Dee Why Point in Sydney, Australia, to get the event completed in front of a crowd of more than 2,000 spectators. Gilmore started strong, netting a seven out of a possible 10, before the No. 2-ranked Fitzgibbons came out and took the lead for the majority of the final.

Gilmore wasn't done, though. With a little less than five minutes remaining, Gilmore jagged a set wave, throwing out a mix of powerful, top-to-bottom moves with seamless transitions to score a 7.20, giving her a total of 14.20 to beat Fitzgibbon's 12.40 score.

"It’s incredible how good this feels," Gilmore said. "Competing in Australia is one of my favorite things to do. I feel comfortable in these waters and have won this event a few times. I guess I’m on a roll and I’m feeling good."

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Teenage global sailor Jessica Watson nears home as she reaches Australian waters

Jessica Watson and one of the squid, which later became part of her lunch, found on deck. Global sailor Jessica Watson passed into Australian waters this weekend, signaling a return to home seas -- a milestone she celebrated with Vegemite on crackers.

The 16-year-old Watson said it was a very special moment, with hot chocolate in hand, a light sprinkling of rain and an albatross circling above to mark the occasion.

Aside from the squid Watson continues to find on board (one of which ended up as part of her lunch Saturday), things seemed to be going smoothly in recent days, until Sunday night, when the weather turned ugly. Here's Watson's description of it from her blog:

Things got pretty interesting for a while last night, when what I thought was just a light passing squall, turned into a full on electrical storm, the worst I've seen at sea yet. Even though I could hardly see it through the icy cold sideways rain, the lightning was striking the water nearby much too close for my liking. The wind gusted pretty high too.

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Injured Kelly Slater bests Mick Fanning to win Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

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Despite suffering a hairline fracture in his right foot three days ago, Kelly Slater stepped it up to win the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, beating reigning two-time ASP World Tour champion Mick Fanning in clean 3- to 4-foot waves at the backup venue of Johanna Beach, Australia, the third venue change of the event.

Following a relatively slow start to the highly anticipated final, Australia's Fanning unleashed with a 7.17 to take the lead, stringing together a series of high-speed maneuvers to pull ahead and put Slater, a Floridian, on the ropes.

However, Slater would answer back with an incredible alley-oop aerial maneuver, boosting so high that his feet separated from his board before he recovered for an 8.93. Slater then paddled out into another excellent wave, scoring an 8.10 to bring his total to 17.03 out of a possible 20 -- a lead that Fanning would not overcome.

"It was a lot more difficult than it looked out there," Slater said. "The tide came up, and the takeoff was a lot deeper than we thought it would be. I was getting bumped and bounced and falling, and I had five or six waves before I got something going. On that 8.93, I was up in the air, and when I landed, I kind of fell on my butt and did the one-footed shuffle, but I recovered there. Then I paddled straight into that second wave and that was it."

Slater, a nine-time ASP world champion, was able to push himself to a record 42nd elite tour victory and his fourth at Bells Beach, matching the historic record set by legendary Australian Mark Richards in the 1970s.

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Kelly Slater moves forward at Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach despite injury

Kelly Slater showed no signs of the reported injury, winning his Round 3 heat over Dusty Payne during the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

The ASP World Tour Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach relocated to its third venue for the event in Australia, moving one point north to Winkipop to take advantage of 3- to 4-foot waves for Round 3 and the opening four heats of Round 4.

Nine-time ASP World Tour champion Kelly Slater had a bit of a worry prior to competition, spending the day in the hospital getting scans of his right foot (inflamed ligaments suspected). He could still surf though, and was victorious over Hawaii's Dusty Payne in Round 3.

"I woke up this morning and I couldn’t walk so for me it was all an upside today," Slater said. "I expected to go out there and lose. Instead, I got out there and figured out I could surf. With 10 minutes remaining, I had priority so I was just hoping for a long flat spell or just one wave. I got a couple of scores, kept it efficient and came away with the win."

Australia's Taj Burrow, current ASP World No. 1, has been in sensational form lately and continued that through his two heats, scoring 17.04 out of a possible 20 to beat fellow Australian Matt Wilkinson.

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ASP World Tour back in action at Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

Brett Simpson won his Round 2 heat to advance at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

Round 2 of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach was completed Tuesday, after event organizers decided to relocate to nearby Thirteenth Beach, Australia, to take advantage of the available 2- to 3-foot swells on offer.

Australia's Chris Davidson received the overall high score of the round, besting fellow Australian Jay Thompson, 16.13 to 16.10, on running right-handers to advance in the second event of the 2010 ASP World Tour.

"The waves start pumping for our heat, and it’s a shame as Bottle [Thompson] was surfing so well," said Davidson. "He probably would have won any other heat, but that’s the tour, sometimes you just have those heats. I’m feeling good though. I feel healthy and I’m looking forward to the rest of the event."

Competitors have felt added pressure this year since the introduction of a new format that will reduce the roster from 45 to 32 surfers after the fifth event of the season, the Billabong Pro Teahupoo in August.

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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