Tasmania’s king of big wave charging, Marti Paradisis, had a longtime dream come true last night when he won Biggest Wave at Surfing Life’s Oakley Big Wave Awards.
Over the Awards’ 10 years, Paradisis has collected every prize except the big one. He’s won the Paddle-in, the Slab, and Best Overall Surfer. But the $20,000 main prize had eluded his grasp until last night, when a colossal wall of water ridden by him off Pedra Branca Rock, south of Tassie, was deemed the largest wave ridden in Australasian waters in the past year.
“It’s a huge thrill,” Marti said of the Award and the ride that generated it. “I’m so stoked to be able to represent the (Tasmanian) crew up here. I wouldn’t get to ride waves like this without a lot of help so this isn’t just for me.”
Marti’s ride just got an edge over mate Danny Griffith, who got another huge ride that day at Pedra Branca. The rides tied in the first judging round, voted for by surfers registered for entry in the Awards, but were comfortably split by an expert panel of big surf maestros from the USA.
The pair were hailed by a stoked roomful of peers, including fellow finalists Paul “Antman” Paterson, Tyler Hollmer-Cross, and Jeff “Camel” Goulden, who earlier took out the increasingly prestigious $5000 Paddle-in Award – reserved for surfers who catch these titanic waves under their own power with no jet-ski assist.
Camel’s ride, off a notoriously fickle Western Australian deep water bombora reef, earned the rare honour of nomination in two categories. But the big dude from the West was casual about his win,
“Some of those other waves, like Pedra, are in a league of their own,” he said.
Biggest Slab and $5000 went to South Africa’s Grant “Twiggy” Baker for a horrendous beast of a ride at Western Oz’s The Right. Twiggy, who flew in especially from Hawaii for the presentation, remembers the day vividly: it almost resulted in the drowning of his tow partner, Antman.
The pair had just swapped roles after Twiggy’s winning ride, when another wave – at least as big – reared up. Antman went, wiped out in the bowels of the thing, and went down – way down.
“The water’s so deep inside the reef, it just surges around and around,” recalled Paterson. “I just remember two waves going over me, being in complete darkness, then looking for a patch of light. I couldn’t even swim toward it, just floated back up, trying to relax.”
Twiggy picked him up moments before an eight-metre wave struck the reef. “We came in after that,” he grinned.
In the Shooter Awards section, the main prize went to Tasmanian photographer Andrew Chisholm and surfer-filmer Mikey Brennan, both of whom captured Marti’s Biggest ride. They split $3000. Former three-time main award winner Jamie Scott and Awards perennial Russell Ord won $1000 each for the winning images of Camel and Twiggy respectively.
The Awards are already into next season’s waiting period, when these daredevils and their mates will try to top the amazing entry list from 2012/13. Awards season runs from Australia Day to Australia Day each year. All we can say is: look out.