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  • McNamara and Fletcher Dominate Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards

A new world surfing record has been recognized at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards fueled by Monster Energy, with Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara (Haleiwa, Hawaii) winning the Biggest Wave Award for a wave measured by experts as 78 feet. The Haleiwa surfer rode the wave at Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal on November 1, 2011, eclipsing the previous record held by Californian Mike Parsons who in 2008 rode a 77 foot wave at the Cortes Bank off the coast of California.

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The height of McNamara's wave was decided by a panel of big wave surfing and photography experts who painstakingly analyzed and measured the photographs and video images of his ride. The measurements of the Billabong XXL judging panel are recognized by the Guinness World Records as the official determination of big wave surfing superlatives. The award winners in seven categories were announced last night at a gala ceremony at the Grove Theater in Anaheim, California that was attended by some 2,200 surf world VIPs.

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Nathan Fletcher collects the $50,000 check for the Sony Xperia Ride of the Year.

"I definitely didn't expect to be up for an award, let alone three. It's a huge honor. I didn't expect that out of myself," he said. "The wave at Teahupoo was pure fate. Somehow it just popped up and I was the one who got it. Somehow, I'm not sure, maybe Sion (former award winner, Sion Milosky who drowned in 2011), gave it to me. I can't believe it. I guess it is all the result of hard work and I am very appreciative of that," added Fletcher.

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Hawaiian Dave Wassel secured the Monster Paddle Award honoring the surfer catching a single big wave without motorized, jet ski assistance.

"For me this is like a lifetime achievement award. I've been using my arms since the day I was born and I'm very, very proud. I'm extremely honored, especially considering the mountain of people who strive for this award. To me it makes this the most prestigious award. Jetskis have their place, but the bottom line is I'll grab a rope if I have to when I'm 40, but I'm not there yet. I'm just using what God gave me," said Wassel.

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Female surfer Maya Gabeira from Brazil won her fifth overall Girls Best Performance Award in Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Award history. Gabeira won four consecutive awards between 2007 and 2010.

"It's special this year. This has been the best year ever in women's surfing. I am very honored to win this award because the sport has evolved so much. I have been coming here for six years now and usually there are one or two standouts. This time the level is so much higher with all five nominees being solid entries," said Gabeira.

In all, over $120,000 in cash and prizes was awarded to the world's greatest big wave surfers in this the 12th edition of the Billabong XXL Awardsfueled by Monster Energy.