Western Australia’s Mick Corbett has taken out the ultimate prize – Ride Of The Year – at the annual Oakley Big Wave Awards. Corbett tackled an epic wave, to take out both the Biggest Slab category and the overall Ride Of The Year Award, with a $20,000 cash prize.
Joining him on the podium by Zac Haynes and Justin Holland who won second and third in Ride Of The Year respectively, each taking home an impressive cash prize and endless accolades from the Australian surf industry.
Hosted by big wave royalty, Makua Rothman, and surf media personality, Ronnie Blakey, the event was attended by surf industry elite, including Nick Carroll, Sebastian Zietz, Sage Erickson, Jack Robinson, Nikki Van Dyk, Billy Stairmand and Felicity Palmerteer. The competition was high this year, with the most entries ever seen, some of the largest and heaviest waves to be ridden in the Southern Hemisphere, and a number of spots renowned for turbulent conditions and shark infested waters.
A consistent stand-out surfer in waves of consequence, Corbett’s winning submission from The Right was an incredible experience for him and best mate, Jarryd Foster, who was last year’s Biggest Wave winner, and towed Mick in to this year’s champion wave. Corbett is one of a handful of West Australian surfers to charge the notorious break of The Right regularly, which always gives him a thrill like no other. In an act of true mateship, Corbett announced that he would split his winnings with Foster.
“The high you get from surfing these waves, there’s nothing like it,” said Corbett. “You start getting nervous because you know it’s going to be big. Then you watch the first wave and you’re still pretty nervous, but then you get one and it’s like, get me back out there I want another one!”
“This wave in particular, Jarryd turned around to me on the jet ski with a big grin and said, ‘Don’t even look at it, it’s big!’ So I didn’t really look at the wave as I was being towed in, I just looked down the line and tried to put myself in a perfect position. I didn’t really know what was going on behind me; I was just trying to position myself to get barreled. I didn’t realise how big it was until I got back into the channel and all of the photographers were shaking their heads in disbelief calling it the biggest wave they have ever seen out there,” he continued.
Taking home second place in the Ride Of The Year Award category, $7,000, and the Biggest Paddle-In award, fellow West Australian charger, Zac Haynes, made the cut due to his successful navigation of a tower of water at Western Australia’s Cow Bombie.
Hailing from Northern New South Wales, Third place winner in the Ride Of The Year category, Justin Holland, took home glory and a $3,000 cash prize. Putting it all on the line during a swell in June of 2015, Holland rode what was deemed as the Biggest Wave in Australian waters, also at Western Australia’s Cow Bombie, which resulted in a broken femur.
Rounding out the award categories, the Viewer’s Choice Award provided surf fans the chance to vote for their favourite Big Wave Awards entry online. Heath Joske, originally of Valla Beach and now a resident of South Australia, was voted Viewer’s Choice by peers and fans alike, following a giant Paddle-In in the cold, dark waters of South Australia.
Not only has Joske received this tremendous nod of respect from the industry, he has also won an all-expenses-paid trip for two, to the surf-blessed Mentawai Islands of Indonesia. Long supporters of their son’s passion for big wave surfing, Joske announced he plans to share the prize with his parents, “…because they deserve it!”
The Oakley Big Wave Awards have come to highlight a side of surfing that’s beyond both the recreational mainstream, and the professional competitive arena – a zone where seemingly normal people take incredibly outlandish risks, with little concern for fame or renown. No contest singlets, no ratings points, just one really big wave.