NEWPORT BEACH, CA (April 15, 2003) — With only days remaining until the winners are announced at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards, nominees for surfing’s biggest prize have already begun arriving in Southern California from as far away as France, Australia and Hawaii.

Five surfers have been named finalists in the annual competition which acknowledges the biggest waves challenged anywhere in the world over the last year. The breaker determined by a panel of experts to have the biggest face will earn the surfer who rode it a prize of $60,000 — plus an extra $1000 for every foot of height over 60 feet.

The 5 nominees for the 2003 Billabong XXL Award are:

  • Fred Basse (France) at Belharra Reef, France on March 10, 2003.
  • Cheyne Horan (Australia) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 26, 2002.
  • Noah Johnson (USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 26, 2002.
  • Sebastian St. Jean (France) at Belharra Reef, France on March 10, 2003.
  • Makua Rothman (USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 26, 2002.

Photos of all finalist rides may be viewed on the PHOTO page, along with a brand-new streaming video clip showing each ride from multiple angles.

With demand for tickets to the invitation-only ceremony greatly exceeding the 1500-person capacity of the Grove of Anaheim Theater, a live webcast of the entire evening’s festivities has been arranged. From the red-carpet arrivals to the video recap of the year’s best rides to the victory speeches to the post-ceremony press conference, it will all be transmitted to the world in on the front page of this site. The feed begins at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on April 18.

According to Graham Stapelberg, Vice President of Marketing for Billabong USA, the worldwide interest in the Big Wave Awards has been remarkable. “This year we decided to expand the XXL event to a GLOBAL format, and it has become truly that,” said Stapelberg. “We’ve seen huge waves in Hawaii, California, France and Mexico, ridden by surfers from the USA, Australia, Europe and Brazil. It’s given every key area of the surfing world something to cheer about.”

In addition to the five surfers up for Billabong XXL Award for the biggest wave caught by any means, the three finalists for the Biggest Paddle-In Wave have been announced. They are:

  • Eraldo Gueiros (Brazil) at Jaws, Maui on January 27, 2003
  • Gary Linden (Oceanside, CA) at Todos Santos, Mexico on December 16, 2002.
  • Toby Cunningham (Coronado, CA) at Todos Santos, Mexico on December 16, 2002.

The winner of the Biggest Paddle-In Wave will be awarded $5000, and the photographer will receive a custom SPL camera waterhousing.

Additional categories to be awarded include the Best Photo award ($5000) for the photographer who captures the definitive image of the XXL winning wave, and the Jay Moriarity Best Overall Performance Award ($5000) to the big wave surfer with the most outstanding rides at the biggest variety of venues over the course of the year.

The Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards are presented by Surfline, the world’s premier surf report and forecasting service.

For additional information, including photos and video of the nominated rides and precise rules and judging criteria, please click the INFO above.

Members of the media seeking photographs, videotape or other information about the Billabong XXL event or the awards presentation, may contact: Bill Sharp, Contest Director

Phone: 949-548-6740
E-mail: SurfNewsEd@aol.com