By Andrea Swayne
San Clemente-based professional big wave surfer Greg Long was one of a group of daredevil wave riders who cashed in on a big early October swell at Jaws on Maui’s northern coast. As Jaws roared to life, it provided not only one of the earliest starts to a big wave season ever, but also the perfect opportunity for Long and a handful of other paddle-in pioneers to come up with this season’s first entries into the annual Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards.
Long has for many years been a fixture among nominees and awardees of the decade-old Billabong XXL awards, but in 2009 cemented himself as one of the best paddle-in surfers in the world as the first ever Ride of the Year winner to have won without the use of a jet ski tow-in. By the looks of his first entry this year, he is poised to make another run at Ride of the Year for 2013.
The National Weather Service is predicting El Niño conditions to continue, and possibly strengthen, throughout the winter—good news for the athletes who chase the behemoth waves this weather pattern tends to produce.
The 2013 Billabong XXL award presentation is set for May, but until then videos of all the entries will be posted on the website at www.billabongxxl.com.