By Amy Larson
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. —Since the start of 2013, Nat Young and Shawn Dollar re-solidified Santa Cruz’s rightful place in the professional surfing world.
Dollar did it with one epic wave at Cortes Bank, a surf break in the middle of the ocean off Southern California’s coast. The Santa Cruzan set a new Guinness World Record for biggest wave ever paddled into when he caught a 61-foot wave.
“It was the biggest wave I’ve ever seen,” Dollar said. “I paddled as hard as I could into this thing. I was focused on making the drop, the drop was not easy. It was the ride of my life.”
Dollar shredded across the wild wall of water to outrace monstrous white water pounding behind him.
The Cortes Bank wave earned Dollar $30,000, the 2013 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave award, and the Pacifico Paddle award on Sunday. To be nominated for a Billabong XXL Big Wave Award, the radical ride must be recorded on video or photographed, and Half Moon Bay-based surf photographer Frank Quirarte captured Dollar on the 61-foot wave.
Young splashed Santa Cruz back onto the surfing map last month by surprising everyone at Bells Beach in Australia by placing 2nd at the Rip Curl Pro, a prestigious ASP World Championship Tour contest.
Young is a rookie on the ASP WCT — the highest level of professional surfing — and the Rip Curl Pro was stop number two on the tour. Young, 21, out performed surfing legends Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson before losing to Brazilian Adriano De Souza in the final.
“Even though it is second place, I feel like it was still probably the highlight of my career so far,” Young said.
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