Todos Santos Big Wave event

Mark Healey overcame his big-wave brothers to take gold at the low-key, high quality Todos Santos Big Wave event. Photo by Eggers

Top professional big wave surfers from around the world gathered at Todos Santos Island last week to compete for the glory at the Todos Santos Big Wave Event. An unruly swell and full moon tides delivered challenging 40-45 foot faces all day, culminating in an action-packed final.

Veteran charger Shane Dorian, who was virtually unstoppable from his first heat on, met his match in a close contest against fellow Hawaiian Mark Healey. In a wave-for-wave challenge, Healey scored a perfect 10 and a 9.5 to take his first ever big wave title. Meanwhile, Chilean Ramon Navarro, who made it to the event despite his country’s devastating earthquake the day before, took third place honors after scoring two impressive nine-point waves. South Africans Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Brazilian Carlos Burle, and Californian Grant Washburn rounded out the final with impressive performances throughout the day.

Among the highlights:

Peruvian Gabriel Vallaran, surfing Killers for the first time, grabbed the Biggest Wave Award after dominating his first round heat with a perfect 45-foot bomb, the second ten-point wave of the day. (Greg Long received the first.)

Todos local Rusty Long proved his unwavering commitment to charging with the Worst Wipe Out Award.

In the semi-final, Healey edged out Greg Long by a mere 0.5 margin to advance to the final.

And Baker and Burle embodied the event’s spirit of cooperation by riding the same 45-foot face in the final; Burle crisscrossed over the top for a 9.0, while Twiggy thrashed the inside to earn a 9.5.

Shane Dorian expressed the sentiment of everyone involved. “There will never be another event like this, that’s this grassroots, where everyone comes together to do what they love.”

This year’s Todos Santos Big Wave Event truly is unlike any other, in that it brought together the world’s most accomplished big wave riders without the promise of prize money. Everyone who participated yesterday was doing it for the sport. As Event Director and big wave rider Gary Linden said of the DIY spirit, “The only things we need are the waves and the surfers.”

“Even if I had won a zillion dollars, I couldn’t be happier,” declared an ecstatic Mark Healey after being drenched in Mexican beer and tequila by his fellow competitors. The awards banquet then erupted into an organized chaos, with surfers, crew and a few lucky spectators hyped on a day full of adrenaline.

Stay tuned: Rogue Wave Events will announce the first ever Big Wave World Champion at the end of the 2009-10 season (April 09 to March 10).

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