Photos by Darren McCagh/Billabong XXL

Most people can appreciate the raw power of the ocean, a quality ride by a surfer on a giant wave and, when a surfer is overmatched, a humbling wipeout. The accompanying video contains what have been deemed the five most savage wipeouts of the past 12 months (all five surfers were humbled, but not seriously injured). Our favorites are either first, involving Brett Burcher (bottom image), or the last, involving Chris Shanahan  (top image). Do you agree?

Both surfers were punished at a break called “The Right” in Australia. As viewers can see, the wave sucks out to the point where the lip becomes a massive slab. Burcher might still be having nightmares about his ragdoll-style, over-the-falls body slam, and Shanahan would definitely win if this were a freefall competition.

They’re among the many big-wave surfers who are part of the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards, which will be announced on May 3 at a ceremony in Southern California. Premier categories are Ride of the Year, Best Overall Performance (men and women) and Biggest Wave.


Surfers do not aspire to end up in the Wipeout of the Year category, for obvious reasons, but they generally enjoy the ribbing they receive before and during the awards party. (And for the first time in contest history, the public can vote on which surfer endured the most humbling spill.)

Will it be Burcher or Shanahan, or will Joao de Macedo, Tom Dosland, or Axi Muniain shine red-faced in the XXL spotlight? Time will tell.