A Braunton big wave surfer has won an award for Wipeout of the Year in a death-defying bail which saw him break his back.
Andrew Cotton’s Nazaré wipeout in November bagged him the World Surf League (WSL) Wipeout of the Year award in the ceremony in LA last week.
But the brutal bail has also seen him endure months of rehabilitation after fracturing a vertabrae at the Portugal big-wave hotspot.
Andrew, know as Cotty, vowed the monster wave at Praia do Norte in November would not finish off his big wave surfing career.
In fact, he’s already looking forward to the next big wave season to kick off later this year.
Cotty said: “It’s one of those things, it’s not exactly on the agenda for the duff-up award, but it’s part and parcel of it really.
“It’s just part of surfing big waves and it you’re going to take the risk you’ve got to ride with it.
“Looking back I probably wouldn’t have done anything whole lot different on this wave.
“A couple of little tweaks and it could easily have been my wave of the winter.”
Cotty said it was great fun to go to the awards night and hang out with some of his surfing heroes.
When asked if he would be back in the water at Nazaré again, he replied, ‘100 per cent.’
“My back is feeling good now and I feel strong and positive,” he added.
“It’s going to be hard but I hope next year I will be going for Ride of the Year or XXL Biggest Wave instead.”
The moment of Cotty’s wipeout was captured on film which hit news outlets around the globe, as he was swallowed by the wall of water.
It received millions of views around the globe as it was shared on social networks and through the surfing communities.
At the time, the 38-year-old told the Gazette the wipeout was the biggest impact he had ever had, and he was swiftly pulled from the water by local lifeguards.
The Praia do Norte spot has been both a blessing and a curse for Cotty – in 2013 it bagged him a nomination for the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards, for riding an 80ft Nazaré monster.
At the time the wave was a contender for the Guiness World Record for the largest wave ever surfed.
Cotty even appeared on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman, who asked him if the experience compared to being in a washing machine.