Celebrating Big Wave Surfing in Oz

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Oakley Australia and Australia’s Surfing Life Magazine hosted the ninth annual Big Wave Awards at Bondi Pavillion in Bondi Beach, Australia. The awards pay homage to some of the best heavy water surfers for their fearless pursuit of adrenaline pumping big wave action.

Nominees included insane rides by renowned big-wave stars like former winner and Oakley’s own, Mark Mathews and Maroubra’s Koby Abberton, who teamed up with Hawaii’s Tom Dosland to hunt down a massive Slab off southern Australia.

The Bondi Pavillion theater was packed with a rowdy crowd, but who wouldn’t go wild watching footage of guys dropping in on waves bigger than most houses?

In addition to the who’s-who of Australian surfing, legendary Oakley skater Bob Burnquist, who’s in town for the up-coming Bowl-A-Rama skate contest, and Oakley wakeboarders Nicola Butler and Amber Wing were in attendance to support their fellow Oakley athletes and, well, let’s be honest – to have a good time!

And a good time it was.

Dean Bowen had the crowd in stitches accepting his award for Biggest Paddle In. “I had to get saved by a life guard twice before I was eight years old,” he laughs, proving that big wave surfing is just in his blood.

Cale Grigson took the award for Biggest Slab after much debate from the esteemed judging panel and Oakley surfer Mark Mathews won his second Biggest Wave Ridden award and the $20,000 prize by unanimous vote. What made his ride even more remarkable was that he did it with a torn ligament in his knee! While the injury was the last thing on his mind in the moment, he admits that looking back at the photos of the ride is when insanity of it all really settles in.

The awards wouldn’t be possible without the photographers and videographers on hand to captures these moments on film. The big winner in the photographic Shooter Awards was Calum Macauley, who shot both Mathews’s and Grigson’s winning rides. He took home $3500, sharing the Slab photo award with Kerby Brown. Well-known surf filmmaker Tim Bonython won $1000 for the recording of Dean Bowen’s win.

The evening also honored the rescue efforts of surfer Jon Dwyer and surf photographers Bill Morris and Russell Ord, who were involved in separate surf rescue incidents during the past year.

Ord pulled drowning American surfer Jacob Trette out of danger at California’s lethal Maverick’s surf spot, while Dwyer and Morris saved “Bondi Rescue” lifeguard Kobi Graham after he broke his neck surfing at Ours, off Cape Solander in Sydney.

Now back in the water and surfing after an extended recovery, Graham was quick to praise his rescuers. “Mate, if it wasn’t for them, I could be dead or in a wheelchair.”

All and all a great night in Bondi, but as Nick Carroll reminded everyone, “next year’s big wave awards waiting period starts tomorrow…” let the hunt begin!

NOMINEES AND WINNERS

BIGGEST WAVE
Mark Mathews – The Right, WA. Image credit: Calum Macauley (winner)
Jeff Rowley – Deep South, Victoria. Video credit: Anonymous
Mark Visser – Cow Bombie, WA. Video credit: Rick Jakovich
Chris Ross – The Right, WA. Video credit: Ben Rufus
Shaun Wallbank – Southport, TAS. Image credit: Andrew Chisholm
Benn Richardson – Southport, TAS. Image credit: Andrew Chisolm

BIGGEST SLAB
Cale Grigson – The Right, WA. Image credit: Calum Macaulay (winner)
Karl Atkins – Hammerheads, NSW. Image credit: Nathan Smith
Chris Ross – The Right, WA. Video credit: Ben Rufus
Chris Shanahan – The Right, WA. Video credit: Ben Rufus
Mikey Brennan – Shipstern Bluff, TAS. Video credit: Tim Bonython. Image credit: Andrew Chisholm
Mark Mathews – The Right, WA. Image credit: Calum Macaulay
Tom Dosland – The Right, WA. Image credit: Kerby Brown

BIGGEST PADDLE-IN
Dean Bowen – South Coast, NSW. Video credit: Tim Bonython (winner)
Paul Morgan – Hammerheads, NSW. Image credit: Nathan Smith
Justen ‘Jughead’ Allport – Image credit: Tony Harrington
Courtenay Gray – Margaret River, WA. Image credit: Steven Scarvelis
Jeff Rowley – Deep South, VIC. Image credit: Anonymous