Californian big wave charger Ken “Skindog" Collins (Santa Cruz) has trumped the world's best big wave surfers to claim victory in the Ride Of The Year category at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy.
The 37-year-old rode a monstrous, seemingly impossible tube at Puerto Escondido, Mexico in June 2006 to earn nomination alongside Manoa Drollet (Tahiti), Rusty Long (California), Andrew Marr (South Africa) and Doug Young (New Zealand).
“Bottom line is, with this whole group of nominees, if you take away the glitz and the glamour, the whole money aspect and everything else, the same crew are going to do the same thing," said Collins. “We are all adrenalin junkies and we love this. “I would have paid 50 grand to get that barrel. This is a dream come true, just getting paid to do what you love to do," he said. “Puerto is the gnarliest wave on the planet. You can get deeper in the tube there than anywhere else in the world."
Also taking victory in the Monster Tube category for the same ride, Collins emphatic win was a welcome reward after almost quitting big wave surfing due to a horrific wipe-out at the big wave location Jaws in Hawaii two years ago.
“I got beat down at Jaws a few years back and told myself I wasn't going to do this anymore, had a complete change of heart, he said. “I went back and changed my equipment and focused on the safety angle a bit more and it all came together."
Collins claimed $50,000 for the monumental achievement and added his name to a long list of esteemed big wave winners including Brad Gerlach (California), Mike Parsons (California), Makua Rothman (Hawaii), Dan Moore (Hawaii), Pete Cabrinha (Hawaii) and Carlos Burle (Brazil).
San Clemente local Greg Long was also among the victors after he rode a 65-foot widow-maker at Dungeons in South Africa to take out the Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Award category.
The 23-year-old is revered as one of the world's most promising big wave surfers. “I can't even put it into words how excited I am," said Long. “I have been chasing huge waves for the last six years of my life. “In the last two years I have been really focusing on finding and riding the biggest waves I can.
“When it all comes together in one ride it's such an unlikely scenario that you are going to be in the right spot for a monster swell and then actually get photographed on the biggest wave that comes through."
Long defeated West Australian duo Alex Cater (Yallingup), Damon Eastaugh (Yallingup), Alistair Craft (Santa Cruz) and Andrew Marr (Cape Town, South Africa).
Hawaiian Garrett McNamara added another Billabong XXL Award to his long list of achievements by winning the Monster Paddle In Award. Already a former Surfline Overall Performance recipient, McNamara abandoned the use of a Personal Water Craft (PWC) to drop into a giant wave at Mavericks, Half Moon Bay California and earn nomination for the category.
One of many who chase swells across the globe, the 39 year-old beat Ben Andrews (San Francisco, California), Axier Muniain (Zarautz, Basque Country), Gabrial Villaran (Lima, Peru) and Dave Wassel (Hawaii).
“I'm so stoked, I didn't expect to win it," said McNamara. “I go out there and surf for fun, but on the other hand I do try really hard. That wave was the heaviest wave I have ever had at Mavericks. “It's really an honour," he said. “I like to represent Hawaii, that's where I come from."
South American surfing starlet Maya Gabeira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) etched her name in the big wave surfing record books after winning the best overall performance in the women's category.
The 20-year-old from took the honor ahead of duel former winner Jamilah Star (Santa Cruz, California) and Andrea Moller (Maui, Hawaii). “I'm really happy tonight," said Gabeira. “I ride big waves because that is what I love to do. “These awards really give us the opportunity to show what we are doing out there, it's amazing."
The 06/07 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards highlighted the truly international flavour and direction of big wave surfing, with nominees represented from Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, USA and additionally hundreds of entrants from all around the globe.
BiLLABONG XXL GLOBAL BIG WAVE AWARDS OFFICIAL RESULTS
BILLABONG XXL RIDE OF THE YEAR AWARD (Surfer prize $50,000 Video prize $5000)
Winner: Ken "Skindog" Collins (Santa Cruz, California, USA) at Puerto Escondido, Mexico on June 17, 2006 Video by Josh Pomer
Second Place: Andrew Marr (Cape Town, South Africa) at Dungeons, South Africa on July 30. 2006
Third Place: (Tie) Rusty Long (San Clemente, California, USA) at Puerto Escondido, Mexico on June 2, 2006
Third Place: (Tie) Doug Young (Dunedin, New Zealand) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on October 13, 2006
Fifth Place: Manoa Drollet (Tahiti, French Polynesia) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on July 28, 2006
BILLABONG XXL BIGGEST WAVE AWARD (Surfer prize $15,000 - Photo/video prize: $4000)
Greg Long (San Clemente, California, USA) at Dungeons, South Africa on July 30. 2006 (Photo by Al McKinnon)
MONSTER PADDLE AWARD (Surfer prize $15,000 - Photo/video prize: $4000)
Garrett McNamara (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Maverick's, Half Moon Bay, California on December 14, 2006 (Video by Ryan Casey)
MONSTER TUBE AWARD (Surfer prize $5,000 - Photo/video prize: $2000)
Ken "Skindog" Collins (Santa Cruz, California, USA) at Puerto Escondido, Mexico on June 17, 2006 (Photos by Edwin Morales o Video by Josh Pomer)
SURFLINE MEN'S BEST OVERALL PERFORMANCE AWARD (Surfer prize $5,000)
Garrett McNamara (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA)
BILLABONG WOMEN'S BEST OVERALL PERFORMANCE AWARD (Surfer prize $5,000)
Maya Gabeira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)