2012 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards

The winners of the 2012 Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards, sponsored by Monster Energy, were announced yesterday in Anaheim, California. The categories for the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards include the Monster Tube Award, Monster Paddle In Award, XXL Biggest Wave Award, Verizon Wipeout of the Year Award, Surfline Mens Performance Award, Billabong Girls Performance Award and the ultimate Ride of the Year Award.

Garret McNamara, Nathan Fletcher, Dave Wassel and Maya Gabeira have dominated the Billabong XXL Global Big Waves Awards. The winner in each category are as follows.

XXL Biggest Wave Award

Garret McNamara – Praia do Norte, Portugal

2012 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Award – Garret McNamara – Praia do Norte, Portugal. Photo: Wilson Riberio

Ride of the Year Award

Nathan Fletcher – Teahupoo, Tahiti


Monster Tube Award

Nathan Fletcher – Teahupoo, Tahiti

Nathan Fletcher, Billabong XXL Biggest Tube Award-Teahupoo, Tahiti. Photo: Brian Bielmann



Monster Paddle In Award

Dave Wassel – Jaws / Peahi, Maui

Dave Wassel, Billabong XXL Paddle In Award, Jaws, Peahi, Maui Photo: Frank Berthuot


Verizon Wipeout of the Year Award

Garret McNamara – Jaws, Peahi, Maui

Surfline Mens Performance Award

Nathan Fletcher – San Clemente, CA

Billabong Girls Performance Award

Maya Gabeira – Teahupoo, Tahiti

Surfing in Muizenberg

Words and Photographs by Gero Lilleike (unless otherwise stated)

I awake to the gentle sound of the sea and as I rise from my slumber, I look out my window and smile. Not too far away, 3ft waves roll toward the beach, beckoning me to go play. The sun is out, the sky is blue and it’s time to go surf. I arrive at ‘Surfers Corner’ in Muizenberg and find myself in chaos as throngs of people bustle on the beach and in the sea, soaking up this beautiful day like seals in the sun.

Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

I suit up and make my way to the waters edge. Everywhere I look I see people, most with some sort of surf craft at hand. Muizenberg is one of many crowded surf spots in Cape Town and I would even go so far as to say that it’s quite possibly the most crowded surf spot in South Africa. The wave at Muizenberg is generally quite small and breaks gently, making it a particularly popular beach for people wanting to learn how to surf. Paddling out at Muizenberg is like driving into oncoming traffic, you constantly have to dodge and dive to avoid collisions with other surfers. Getting a wave to yourself is a rare occasion and everyone paddles for the same wave making it a free-for-all wave frenzy. Surfing etiquette? What’s that? I wasn’t out for long and before I could even react a surfer rode over me leaving me to bleed in the sea.

The view at Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa

Apart from the perils of surfing at Muizenberg, it can be a fun place to surf, especially when there’s a record to break. In 2009, the Earthwave Beach Festival saw 443 surfers take to the water, attempting to set the Guinness World Record for the most surfers to ride a single wave. The attempt was successful, with 110 surfers riding the same wave, beating the old record of 100 set in Santos, Brazil in 2008. To this day, Muizenberg holds that record proudly.

Another interesting fact is that Muizenberg is considered to be the birth place of surfing in South Africa. The earliest recorded surfing event in South Africa apparently took place in Muizenberg in 1919 when Heather Price, a Capetonian woman, befriended two American marines who disembarked in Cape Town on their way home after World War One. The two kind gentlemen happened to have solid wood, Hawaiian style surfboards and proceeded to introduce Heather to stand-up wave riding. The photograph of Heather Price surfing in Muizenberg speaks for itself.

If you ever have the pleasure of visiting Cape Town and have the nerve to learn how to surf, visit Muizenberg, rent a board or a surf instructor and go for a paddle, you might be pleasantly surprised at how fun surfing really is. Good luck and enjoy.

Steve Erwin (Surf Shack), The Best Surf Instructor in Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa

The Soft Side of Teahupoo

Words by: Gero Lilleike

Photographs:  Tim McKenna

You don’t need to be a photographer or even have any knowledge of the art to appreciate the power of an image, all that is needed are open eyes and an open mind. Whilst perusing one of my favorite website’s, www.clubofthewaves.com , I happened to come across some amazing images that I found quite fascinating, mainly due to the fact that I’ve never really seen or heard of the ’tilt-shift technique’ in photography before.

That said, the results the technique yielded in these particular shots are something to marvel at. What I love about these shots is the level of  deception the photographer, Tim McKenna, has achieved.  This achievment is largely attributed to the fact that the deception lies in the contradiction.   The photographs were taken at  Teahupoo in Tahiti, one of the world’s heaviest and death-defying waves, however, the photographs depict a miniature scene which can be perceived to be completely harmless and even playful at times but for the surfers who ride these waves, the reality is far more terrifying. Amazing photographs.


If you are interested in surfing, surf culture, surf art and surf photography then www.clubofthewaves.com is a cool site to visit. If you want to view the original article, click here.

Push the Tempo

The sea is calm with no waves in sight. It’s been like this for days. There’s nothing left for me to do but engage in some mind surfing, even then I find no resolve. The sea gently laps the shore. On flat days like this my thoughts are blown out of proportion as I imagine gigantic swell heaving towards the shore, visciously wild and unridden. While I revel in the vestiges of my mind, somewhere across the vast expanse of the ocean, a beast is born.

The thought of big wave surfing scares the living shit out of me, but thats me and I have utmost respect for those who seek and conquer the world’s biggest waves. So when I came across this story, thanks to my friend Kelly Slater,  my mind was once again in turmoil trying to comprehend the thrill of big wave surfing. I think this story is an amazing example of the guts and determination of the human spirit to succeed against all odds.

Taming the Beast

It’s difficult to imagine what it must feel like to surf at Teahupoo, Tahiti, arguably the world’s heaviest wave. Most of us would rather think of doing something else but for those brave enough, Teahupoo can either offer the ride of your life or end your life at the crack of its whip. The choice is yours, be good or be dead.

The Billabong Pro Tahiti has experienced some of the heaviest and gnarliest swell in the contest’s history. The raw determination and guts of the surfers who ride these waves is commendable to say the least and goes to show that people are capable of alot more than we care to realise. Enough said, words cannot grasp the intensity of Teahupoo in its entirety but watch this video and decide for yourself or visit www.billabongpro.com for more. If this doesn’t satisfy you, nothing will.

Jordy Smith clenches Billabong Pro in J-Bay

Photo’s and words by Gero Lilleike

Let’s forget about wasting drumrolls for Kelly Slater, it’s just not worth it. It’s a good thing King Kelly never showed up at the 2011 Billabong Pro in Jeffreys Bay because Jordy Smith was destined to remain champion and would have put Kelly Slater over his knee for a good old hiding.

In the final day of the contest, Jordy Smith came up against Mick Fanning in the final in less than ideal conditions in what was a closely contested heat, with Jordy taking the win. The previous day saw J-Bay lighting up with some solid swell and a full day of magnificent surfing from all the competitors. Standout performances included Jordy Smith eliminating Bede Durbidge with some insane manoeuvres. Julian Wilson also ripped into an incredible 10 point tube ride that was quite possibly the wave of the contest.

The atmoshere and vibe on the beach was equally entertaining and watching the pros at work was really amazing. Congratulations to Jordy Smith on his second win at J-Bay and to the rest of us South Africans, we can be proud.

Billabong Pro J-Bay Kick Off

Words by Gero Lilleike

Photo: ASP World Tour

Somewhere in the world, a champion is tearing into some epi-stellar waves, not to mention Kelly Slater in Fiji, but here in South Africa, our very own champion, Jordy Smith, has started his assault at the 2011 Billabong Pro in Jeffreys Bay, offloading a well deserved 16.87 points in the first heat of the contest. 

King Jordy

It seems that the Supertubes machine hasn’t quite turned on yet but the 3-4 foot surf gave Jordy Smith plenty to work with. Click here to watch Jordy showing Kelly who the real king is. Now all we need is for King Kelly to get to J-Bay and hand over his crown. Drumroll… 

Live News from Leatherfoot to follow later in the week, for now, keep up to date with the latest action at www.billabongpro.com . Aloha.

Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards 2011

There’s a saying that goes “the early bird catches the worm”. Well, unfortunately, I wasn’t the early bird to catch this worm. However, even though I only picked up on this story a month too late it still holds massive relevance to all those big wave surfers, who to this day,  carry their massive testicles around in trollies.

I will always be amazed at how these surfers find the courage to ride waves of such epic proportions. This act, of riding monstrous waves, can only be understood by those super-athletes, the brave men and women who ride them. For the rest of us,  sitting in our offices watching these videos while the boss isn’t looking, can only use our imaginations and dream of riding gigantic waves. For us, it’s completely incomprehensible  and unfathomable. Nonetheless, I have attached a video that illustrates the epic nature of big wave surfing. Surfing is indeed the most exciting sport in the world.


Year Of Our Ocean

I must thank the Editor of ZIG ZAG, Mr Will Bendix, for publishing this letter because I feel it’s important to create awareness around the state of our oceans. Unfortunately he didn’t publish the poem accompanying the letter but I have included it here to drive the point home and get people thinking about it.

The Lookout

Year Of Our Ocean – Published in Zig Zag Surf Magazine April 2011

Surfing in the kelpy lineup of Elands Bay on 1 January 2011 was an amazing experience that made me realise how much we actually take the ocean for granted. As surfers and sea lovers, we reap so much love and joy from the ocean. Humankind, however can be brutal in raping and pillaging the ocean for what it’s worth – be it through oil pollution, over fishing, poaching, or plastic, you name it.

That’s why 2011 is so important. It’s officially Year Of Our Ocean or YOOO, an action-driven awareness campaign that’s running across the globe. Everyone can do their bit to save our oceans, even if it means simply pulling some plastic from the sea after every surf. So to all my fellow readers out there, use YOOO to start making the difference. Its our responsibility and the time is now.

The Sea

In the darkness and the deep,
Where the mother yearns,
Do forgotten secrets sleep,
In love, her heart burns.

In the distant light to be,
With wind she must dance,
Her treasures for all to see,
In waves, lies her trance.

On the shore we stand in awe,
Her bosom full of joy,
Through her eyes we see our flaws,
Her soul, we destroy.

No matter what she will be,
Forever, she is our sea.

Gero Lilleike

The Great Escape

The Great Escape

Published in the Saturday Star on 2 June 2007

Written by Gero Lilleike

We snuck away from Johannesburg under the cover of night. Our destination was a small town on the KwaZulu Natal South Coast, where we were to rendezvous with the ocean and the waves that had beckoned us for so long. We were desperate…

The drive to Durban was short and painless. We pushed south to Scottburgh and then to Kelso, where we settled for a much needed rest.

The onshore wind was strong, leaving the ocean puckered with waves breaking unevenly all along the coast. We drifted into a relaxing sleep, with the breeze soothing our dreams.

The afternoon faded and so too did the wind, a clue of what was to come.

A train passed with empty carriages and the driver blew his horn, sending Vervet monkeys scurrying into the surrounding bush before disappearing into the distance. There are 10 of us and we all live and work in Johannesburg. We are all different but have one thing in common – our love for the ocean. We spend most of our time talking about surfing and the waves that provide us with so much pleasure.

We are simply by consumed by it, taking every opportunity to pack our bags and head off to the coast to do what we love, to do what makes us happy. For us it’s the ‘Great Escape’, an adventure unlike any other. Although we’re from Johannesburg, A land-locked city in the middle of nowhere, we surf, or at least try to. Our time has finally come.

The rising sun pierces through our cabin, waking us to a beautiful day. John screams “Hey, get up”. He taunts us from our slumber. It’s 7 am. There’s no wind. The air is fresh. The waves have arrived.

Standing on our porch with toast and coffee in hand, we ogle the waves wrapping around the point. Our camp is chaos as we prepare our equipment and make our way to the beach where fishermen line the shore in hope of a bite.

The sea is clear and warm. We paddle out and with much pain reach the waves that we’ve dreamt of for so long. We peer through the water and see fish swimming beneath us.

The bottom is rocky. Not too long ago, the coast of KwaZulu Natal was pounded by the biggest swells recorded in 23 years. Apart from doing massive damage to seaside properties along the coast, the massive swells also washed away many of the sandbanks, exposing rocks. It’s really scary looking down and seeing rocks , especially when you plan on riding a wave over them. There are about seven to ten waves in a set, with the last being the biggest and breaking a little further out to sea.

This is the wave you want to catch, and it’s called ‘the outside’. Fear strikes when this wave arrives. Just as we are talking about the rocks and the damage they could inflict, a sizeable wave pitches on the horizon.

I yell “outside” and panic sets in. Everyone scratches the water to get over it. The beast approaches and I just make it. I look down at those who are too late and shout “goodbye”. The wave crashes down, spraying shards of water into the air.

I chuckle to myself. Some make it, some don’t. Who cares? It’s all part of the fun.

As the morning progresses, more surfers flock to the break for a piece of the action. One of them fascinates me. He’s a grey-haired man in his mid-seventies carrying a longboard. He paddles into the sea greeting everyone on his way.

He is fit and before long everyone witnesses him yodelling into some of the best waves of the day. We all smile, knowing that hopefully we will be doing the same when we are his age.

After a few hours in the water, hunger sets it and we are forced to retreat to our cabin for lunch. There’s not a moment of silence as we tell stories of our experiences in the waves.

Our faces are beaming, rejuvenated by the energy of the sea. We’re happy. Everyday should be like this. The sea is a strange thing; it toys with your emotions, your fears, but when you embrace these emotions, the sea can truly liberate your soul. When you come from a fast-paced environment such as Joburg, there is simply nothing better than lying in the ocean and thinking about nothing.

It’s therapeutic and it’s not surprising that so many people choose the sea as their favourite holiday destination. It’s a great place to unwind. And so the days went by, in and out of the sea, surfing, eating and sleeping.

If life were that simple, we would never leave. In the distance of our minds, Joburg was calling, pulling us back to reality. We have jobs and we need to make money, but I know we will escape again.

We stayed in Kelso, south of Scottburgh, in a camp called Vulamanzi, the “place of open water”. For more details go to http://www.wheretostay.co.za/vulamanzi