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  1. #1
    Moderator shawn alladio's Avatar
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    WA surfer wins biggest wave award

    WA surfer wins Biggest Wave Award

    February 14, 2008 08:59am
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    Dwarfed .... Alex "Alfy" Cater surfs a wave with a face height of 14 metres (46 feet) at a deepwater break known as "Cow Bombie" near Margaret River in Western Australia / Reuters

    WEST Australian surfer Alex "Alfy" Cater not only survived riding a terrifying 14m wave but beat some of the nation's best surfers while he was doing it.
    Carter rode into first place at the Oakley Surfing Life Biggest Wave Awards, held in Sydney this year, by surfing a 14m high wave at 'Cow Bombie’ near Margaret River.

    He edged out three other rides, recorded on the same day by Queenslander Mark Visser and Hawaiians Jamie Sterling and Ian Walsh, who travelled halfway round the globe to meet the swell at Cow Bombie last September.

    “It was a pretty big day,” says Alfy. “Right after a storm. The wind backed off and we thought, let’s do it.”
    Cater just missed out on the big prize last year after placing runner-up to Damon Eastaugh.

    This year there was no second best for Carter who took home $20,000 and a new jet ski with his first prize win.

    Alfy’s reaction? “A sigh of relief really mate,” he says. “Now I can pay the taxman all the money I’ve owed him for the past few years.”

    The award will open doors for him in the growing global big-wave competition field, he says.

    Alongside this award, big surf competitions are now held in South Africa, Hawaii and California.
    “It’s something I really want to pursue if I can … I’ve been to Hawaii and California and met a lot of the guys who ride their big spots and I’d love to challenge them.”

    The jet ski will come in handy too . Not long ago, Alfy and his tow partner Ian “Wooly” McPherson had to abandon their ski under a massive set of 10m waves waves at Cow Bombie.

    “The ski conked out about three metres from the worst possible spot . We got three waves on the head and that was it for the ski.”

    The fact that they were six kilometres from land at the time barely raises Alfy’s eyebrow – which is a little clue as to the sort of person who takes on surf in this range.

    Since being inaugurated five years ago, the Oakley Surfing Life Big Wave Awards have revealed a side of surfing long hidden behind the glittering world pro tour arena – a group of surfers who’ve used their home-grown skills and experience to push the sport’s natural limits, often without much publicity or attention outside their peers and slightly horrified onlookers.

    “We’re all pretty rough and ready I suppose but we’re doing this because we love it,” he says. “In a way this award might change some things for me but it won’t change why I go surfing.”

    As for Wooly, who towed him into the Award-winner: “He owns a surf shop and he’s one of my sponsors, so he won’t be seeing the colour of my money!” Alfy laughs.

    Best Overall Performance Award for the season went to Tasmania’s Marti Paradisis, who said he was “over the moon” after his series of amazing tube rides at the Apple Isle’s remote Shipstern Bluff reef break swept the judging panel’s vote.

    “It’s on behalf of all the guys I surf with at ‘Shippies’ and who I know could win this Award too …we’re stoked to have waves in our backyard that are as good as anywhere in the world ..” he says.

    The Shooter Award for photography went to Jamie Scott for his image of Cater’s winning ride.

  2. #2
    Moderator shawn alladio's Avatar
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    And then there is Ireland...

    Irish tow-teams on Billabong XXL radar after huge waves
    Duncan Scott, Aileens : photo Aaron Pearce

    Billabong XXL 2007/2008 MASSIVE IRISH WAVES HAVE GLOBAL IMPACT FOR LOCAL BIG WAVE SURFERS Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 11 February, 2008 : - - The tow-surfing pair of Duncan Scott (Newquay, Cornwall) and Alistair Mennie (Portrush, Northern Ireland) has further highlighted the magnitude of giant, surfable waves breaking off the British Isles’ coastlines, with their recent nominations into the 2008 Billabong International XXL Big Wave Awards.

    The XXL nomination follows their record-breaking session at Mullaghmore Head, in Donegal Bay, on 1 December 2007, where the pair rode waves between 55 to 60 feet high, the biggest waves ever recorded by Ireland’s Marine Institute and the Met Eireann meteorological office.

    Their initial nomination has been backed up by their recent performances in riding some of the biggest waves documented at ‘Aileens,’ a big-wave spot found beneath the imposing, 700-feet high Cliffs of Moher, in County Clare, Ireland.

    The annual XXL Big Wave Awards, sponsored by international surfwear company Billabong, recognises the biggest waves successfully ridden anywhere on the planet over the course of a 12-month period, concluding on 19 March 2008, marking the Vernal (Spring) Equinox.

    Duncan Scott, Al Mennie : photo Aaron Pearce

    ‘We are extremely proud of the inclusion of Duncan Scott and Alistair Mennie into the XXL International Big Wave Awards. It’s a worthy recognition of the efforts and commitment they’ve invested into big-wave surfing in the UK and Irish waters, and shows the calibre of waves and surfers our coastline can produce,’ commented Karen Walton, National Director of the British Surfing Association.

    This is the first time a UK or Irish surfer has gained entry into the premiere ‘Ride of the Year’ category, in which the winner takes home a $50 000 paycheque. This category rewards the technical ability and critical approach of the surfer, as well the size of the wave ridden.

    They are also in contention for the $15 000 prize for ‘Biggest Wave’ category, where a panel of surf industry experts gauge the sheer vertical height of the biggest waves ridden. Alistair Mennie, who rode a 55- 60 foot wave, the biggest ever recorded in the British Isles at Mullaghmore, is hoping that a little Irish luck may continue to prevail for them when they fly out to Anaheim, California for the awards ceremony at the event’s conclusion.

    ‘The Northern hemisphere winter of 2007/2008 has been extremely active in terms of major storms, and hence giant surf,’ stated Californian Bill Sharp, director of the Billabong XXL Awards.

    Al Mennie, Aileens : photo Aaron Pearce

    He continued, ‘Many mainstay big-wave spots like Waimea Bay, Jaws and Mavericks have had their best seasons in years. Despite this, the Ireland session is still holding ground against the biggest waves across the planet, and illustrates the global expansion and exploration of big-wave riding.’

    ‘It’s just a huge honour for us, to earn a slot amongst the elite big-wave riders from around the world. These are the guys we’ve always looked up to since learning to surf,’ enthused Scott.

    He continued, ‘Al and I are committed as a team, and we’ve worked and trained hard together to reach this level. It’s a full-time job for both of us. You’re only as good as your partner allows you to be, and we both want to keep pushing our personal boundaries, ride huge waves and have fun in the process.’

    After California, the pair will travel to the Canary Islands in March and on to the shark-infested break of Dungeons, in South Africa, in May to chase further swells.

    This winter has seen an unprecedented run of large waves battering the west coasts of Cornwall, Wales and Ireland, which many scientists and meteorologists attribute to more volatile weather patterns and increased frequency of storms, due to the effects of global warming.

    Whatever the cause, the rest of the surfing world is opening its eyes to the fact that spots like Aileens, Mullaghmore and, under very specific conditions, Newquay’s Cribber, have the potential to match the size and intensity of any other surfing region in the world.

    “We have long known of the big-wave potential of the north and westerly-facing coastlines of the UK and Ireland. Now with a concerted focus on finding and riding these waves, backed up by jetski technology and our own surfing experience and training, we’re riding waves that we could only have dreamt about in the past,’ enthused Al.

    “What makes this XXL nomination even more laudable is the fact that there is no precedent of a big-wave culture in Ireland or the UK – no long-standing tradition of challenging yourself against the biggest waves you can find, as has occurred in California and Hawaii since the 1950’s, you have to figure everything out for yourself,’ explains Paul O’Kane, towsurfing liaison for the Irish Surfing Association.

    In Ireland, there are no palm trees, and certainly no girls in bikinis, and you’re certainly more likely to catch hypothermia than a tan.
    It takes the utmost commitment, and with greater hazards, but for an intrepid group of heavy water pioneers like Scott, Mennie and a crew of dedicated local surfers, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

    ‘Yesterday, Al decided to forego using the jetski at Aileens, choosing to pit his paddling strength alone against the power of the huge waves. He got caught inside by a rogue wave and was pushed up against the sheer cliff,’ explained Scott.

    ‘Recently, we had a session at Aileens, in the snow and freezing fog with a windchill of minus 9 degrees centigrade. We were preparing to launch the jetski before dawn, standing there in the falling snow in wetsuits, and wondering what the hell we were doing?
    But we knew the surf was big, empty and perfect, so we figured we had to give it a go!’ enthused Scott.

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