In the world of surf, there’s perhaps one award that no surfer outright aims to win – wipeout of the year. This year’s nominees include Andrew Cotton who was quite literally bounced off the bottom of a wave at Nazaré and suffered a broken back, Coco Nogales who nearly landed a kickflip on a heaving Puerto Escondido monster, and more.
Big wave surfing is a branch of our sport that garners widespread attention. First and foremost, massive surf demonstrates the power of the ocean – something that non-surfers may not know or be accustomed to. Second, though, riding giant waves is a lot like running out of a collapsing building during a major earthquake. Watching successful rides gives us vicarious exhileration, but watching severe wipeouts remind us of the consequences. We wince, we groan in empathy, but we just can’t look away.