A gnarly single-day surf session in October has put a Hawaii surfer in position to win $85,000 in prizes at the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards, and perhaps defend a world record for a paddle-in wave by setting a new mark.
Big Island pro surfer Shane Dorian was nominated in all four major categories announced Tuesday by award organizers for the governing body of big wave surfing.
Event director Bill Sharp told The Associated Press that Dorian was highly likely to be nominated for best overall performance for the year by a male surfer when those nominations are released in two weeks.
"He’ll be looking at a clean sweep," Sharp said.
Not bad for one intense wave.
Dorian’s ride came Oct. 9 in waters off the northern end of Maui, in an area known as "Jaws" for its large waves generated from a reef.
Video of Dorian’s best catch shows the surfer dropping in from atop of a growing swell, shooting toward its bottom as the wave starts to fully break. Several seconds into his ride, Dorian spreads his arms out wide as a stream of whitewater shoots out of the wave’s tube. Dorian keeps riding as onlookers cheer him on.
"He paddled into one of the biggest waves ever and rode it perfectly," Sharp said.
Sharp said the ride is remarkable because of how easily Dorian makes it look and how quickly he needed to paddle to catch the wave.
Normally, the biggest waves are caught by towing surfers in with a personal watercraft. Billabong has a special award for paddle-in waves because those surfed purely under human power have been smaller.
"To catch a wave, you have to match its speed," he said.
But this year, two of the largest waves were caught by surfers paddling in by themselves, including Dorian and pro surfer Shawn Dollar of Santa Cruz, Calif. Dollar’s ride came in December at Cortes Bank, a popular spot about 100 miles off the coast of southern California.
Dorian currently holds the world paddle-in record for surfing a wave 58 feet high in 2011, which broke a mark held by Dollar for a 57-foot wave surfed in 2010.
Award winners will be announced during a live show in Anaheim, Calif., on May 3.
Last year’s show certified a 78-foot overall record for Garrett McNamara, who was towed into an enormous swell off the coast of Portugal in November 2011. McNamara made headlines worldwide again in January as a photo of him riding what appeared to be a monster wave became a viral hit online, touching off speculation that he broke his own record.
But Sharp said Tuesday that McNamara was not participating in this year’s big-wave awards.
That means the wave wouldn’t be certified as a world record, as Guinness World Records cites Billabong XXL for its surfing records.