2000-01 - XXL Champion Mike Parsons

Within a couple of seasons, the tow-surfing virus went airborne and the limits of what was deemed rideable in Hawaii and the West Coast were erased forever. That year the XXL Big Wave Awards stepped forward to acknowledge these historic achievements, opening the competition up to tow-ins for the first time. Maui's Pe'ahi emerged as the crucible of PWC-assisted refinement while in California, the bar was raised ever higher at Maverick's with each passing swell.

But on January 19, 2001 a secretive pioneering mission to the Cortes Bank-a landless reef 100 miles off the coast of Southern California-produced some of the most astonishing and ultimately famous big wave images in the history of the sport. Mike Parsons shattered all existing records by smoothly towing in to a wave measured at 66 feet on the face on that day, and ultimately ending up on stage at the XXL Big Wave Awards ceremony, accepting the 2001 XXL Biggest Wave Award from the legendary Greg Noll. For that single ride, Parsons earned $60,000 and his own place in the big wave Hall of Fame.

Winning photo - Aaron Chang