The Billabong Odyssey surfers were delivered to the awards ceremony at the Oakley HQ at dusk, where the crowd gathered to see some of the greatest big wave surfers on the planet in the flesh. In between the three awards being presented, movie clips from this winter were shown to the audience, with waves ridden and surfers interviewed. Brad Gerlach came away winner of the unofficial big wave movie star award. He’s a natural comic, and his description on film of tow partner Parsons giant tube at Jaws had everyone cracking up with laughter.
Gentleman Josh Loya and Shaun Barron from Santa Cruz arrived in the limo with the rest of the crew. After doing the red carpet walk into the reception hall and greeting a few friends who stood along the route, they quietly merged into the crowd to enjoy the evening sans celebrity status. Well dressed with good manners as accessories, the pair found some seats in the audience, choosing not to sit in the reserved seats at the front of the auditorium. Just a couple of real big wave surfers who don’t need crowd adoration and celebrity staus. Not that this would help much when a 65 foot wave at Mavs is about to unload on your head.
Shaun Barron is probably better known as ‘Barney’, a nickname that is pretty inappropriate since he is anything but a barney. He was nondescript in his 70’s style garb at the awards, and within a short time turned completely invisible.
Two things stand out about the man. One, he has always done insane aerials, and more recently has been experimenting with the ‘Barney Flip’ while strapped to his board. And two, he rides really big waves, that’s why he’s on the Odyssey. By the way, he doesn’t mind being called Barney. He knows better.
Kim Moriarity, widow of the late Jay Moriarity, took the stage to announce the contenders for the Jay Moriarity Overall Performance award. Created to honor one of the most committed big-wave surfers the surf world has ever seen, the award offered $5000 to the surfer who rode more giant waves than anyone over the course of the winter. The call was obvious: Mike Parsons.
The man who spent his winter chasing thrills for the Billabong Odyssey, who began his big-wave season in October and didn’t exhale until after his monumental tube at the Tow-in World Cup at Jaws, couldn’t have been more sincere in his acceptance of the award.
“I’m so honored to receive this in Jay’s name,” said Parsons, holding back tears. “From the day I first met him on a big day at Mav’s in ’94, I’ve always known what a special person Jay was. He was a role model for all of us.”
It wasn’t an easy crowd. In fact, it was more brutal than a two-wave hold-down at Mav’s. But Brazilian charger Carlos Burle — winner of this year’s XXL Biggest Wave award, $50,000 and a 2002 Nissan Xterra — stood tall above the drunken, front-row hecklers at Oakley Headquarters last night and spoke from the heart.
“I want to thank my partner, Eraldo Gueiros, the Maverick’s crew and Maverick’s the wave,” said Burle in front of more than 1000 big-wave fans. “It’s been a long time coming.”
And not just for Burle. After two years of big-wave photo contest denial (The ’98 K2 Big-Wave Challenge and last year’s XXL), Maverick’s finally produced a winner, measured at 68 feet (2 feet bigger than Parsons’ 2001 Cortes monster). Coming up a few feet short was second-place finisher Cheyne Horan’s Jaws behemoth, measuring in at 65 feet and Parsons’ Jaws bomb, which came in at 64 feet.
“I wasn’t sure if my shot would win,” said Surfing photographer Frank Quirarte, who took home five grand for his prized image. “It’s so hard to account for how big the trough is at Mav’s, which tends to work against us. If I would’ve gotten the shot right when he took off, it wouldn’t have been close.”
Ignoring Team Santa Cruz’s relentless heckling, Carlos Burle and partner Eraldo Gueiros held up both a Brazilian and American flag, saying, “This is for all big-wave riders world-wide!”
Burle and Gueiros proudly held the banners high. . .but it didn’t last long. Ken “Skindog” Collins and Darryl “Flea” Virostko rushed the stage and tackled their Brazilian friends, appropriately ending the ’01/’02 winter with one last cleanup set.
Surf Svengali (and XXL award creator) Bill Sharp shuttled the Billabong Odyssey Team to the gala function in a 20-passenger luxury limo bus. Traveling with Sharp’s Odyssey entourage was Rolling Stone chief photographer Mark Seliger, along to capture the surf-all-day, party-all-night essence of The Big Wave Boys for an impending portfolio in Vanity Fair Magazine.
Details from the after party celebrations were severely censored by the powers that be. There was no official confirmation that some of the big wave riders enjoyed the company of a group of barely clad maidens on the beaches of Laguna in the early hours of the morning after..