With the winter high surf season reaching its halfway point, entries are flooding in for the third annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Surfline. Photos and videos of dozens of the most amazing rides of the year are now available for public view at the Billabong XXL website. The competition awards a prize of at least $60,000 to the surfer who rides the biggest wave of the year, based on the photographic evidence. The contest runs through March, after which a panel of experts will analyze the Big Wave Awards in Los Angeles in April. This year's XXL Big Wave Awards will also feature the first enshrinements in the Big Wave Hall of Fame, a tribute to the sport's pioneering watermen. The updated the Billabong XXL website.presents a look at each of the truly massive swells which have hit the world's coastlines during this El Nino winter. To date, seven have been declared "Major XXL Swell Events" deserving of their own editorial section on the site. Each Swell Event is thoroughly analyzed, with still photos of the biggest waves, video action of the peak moments, and a look at which surfers stood out and why.

There have been an unprecedented number of surfing regions making major news this winter, with the Outer Reefs of France joining the more commonly considered big wave venues like Maverick's in Northern California, Jaws on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, and the deep-sea Cortes Bank off San Diego, CA. A string of El Nino-fueled storms have made for the strongest big wave winter in several years, according to Surfline forecaster Sean Collins.

In recent years the use of personal watercraft to "tow-in" to giant swells has virtually erased the limits once known in the world of surfing -- and this winter has seen what may be the biggest wave faces yet challenged. "It's amazing how many waves have been ridden this winter which are well over 50 feet on the face," said Billabong XXL contest director Bill Sharp. "It used to be rare; this season it's been almost routine. Determining the biggest may be a real challenge because there is no clear leader -- there are at least a dozen waves clearly in the 60- to 75-foot range." And the exact height matters. The $60,000 Billabong XXL prize will be upgraded by $1000 for each foot of face height over 60 feet. Viewers may judge for themselves at billabongxxl.com press contact: Bill Sharp 949-548-6740 SurfNewsEd@aol.com

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