Oakley Big Wave Awards
It’s by the big wave equivalent of a hairs’-breadth – but Maroubra’s Mark Mathews is $20,000 richer after collecting the Biggest Wave Ridden award at a gala presentation for the Oakley Surfing Life Big Wave Awards.
In what judges described as the closest contest in the event’s seven year history, the 24-year-old Mathews just edged out Bronte’s Kobi Graham and Western Australian Damien “Taco” Warr for the big one, with a ride estimated at nearly 14 metres (45 feet in surfer lingo) at Cow Bombie, WA last September.
“I’m ecstatic,” exclaimed Mark as he was surrounded by hectic well-wishers at the celebrity-studded Bondi Pavilion party. “I still think we should’ve had a paddle-in contest to decide the winner from the finalists. I know it was that close.”
Judges were torn until they were able to view high-quality video of Mathews’s ride, provided by well known surf filmmaker Tim Bonython. Bonython’s footage’s role was rewarded with $3000 for the Biggest Wave Shooter Award. “I didn’t know if Mark wanted me to submit the footage,” said a thrilled Tim. “Then he called me at the last minute. Now I’m extremely stoked I did!”
Marti Paradisis, the “Tasmanian Tiger”, made his own kind of history last night by becoming the first surfer to take two Awards in the one year: one for Biggest Paddle-in Ride (at his beloved Shipstern Bluff), and one for Best Overall Performance for 2008/09.
And in a sensational, crowd-rocking announcement, event presenters Oakley busted out an extra $5000 People’s Choice Award for young Western Ozzie boy Kerby Brown, whose crazy “slab” ridden last year at a secret reef near his home town has had everyone slack-jawed. The wave fell just short of Biggest Wave contention – yet it, and some other super-thick waves entered this year, will almost certainly become the new benchmark for the hell-wave fraternity this coming season.
Said Kerby: "I’m without a major sponsor at the moment so the money will allow me to continue doing what I love: chasing the biggest swells around the country and finding new crazy waves to ride.
“These surfers are like gladiators,” he continued. “Taking on anything nature can throw at them. It’s got to the point where it is extremely dangerous and lives are on the line so hats off to everyone pushing it so far. We are only going to see bigger and heavier rides this year. I can assure you of that!”
BIGGEST WAVE RIDDEN: Mark Mathews
BIGGEST PADDLE-IN RIDE: Marti Paradisis
BEST OVERALL PERFORMANCE: Marti Paradisis
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT: Kerby Brown
SHOOTER AWARDS: Tim Bonython, Dave Otto