Big money wave: Tyler Hollmer Cross on his award-winning ride.
Pedra Branca is a rock covered by bird droppings that looks like a ruined Mayan pyramid about 26 kilometres off the south coast of Tasmania.
A colony of skinks has been trapped there since the land link to Tasmania subsided 15,000 years ago. Abel Tasman first spotted the 2.5-hectare rock in 1642. A Japanese fishing trawler ran into it in 1973 and sank with the loss of 21 lives.
It also breeds waves they call TOADS - Take Off And Die.
"I'm super stoked to receive this award and can't wait to get home and celebrate": Tyler Hollmer Cross. Photo: Supplied
One afternoon late October last year surfer Tyler Hollmer Cross let go of a tow rope as a jet ski powered away leaving him skipping across water on the back of a giant bucking swell marching out of the depths towards Pedra Branca.
Seconds later as the swell stood vertical, the 27-year-old Tasmanian dropped down the face of the glassy 10-metre wave and desperately cranked a bottom turn in hope of running right away from the rock face to the safety of the shoulder as the wave backed off in deeper water.
It was enough to win Hollmer Cross $20,000 in the ''biggest wave'' category of Surfing Life's Oakley Big Wave Awards.
Surfing giants: Pedra Branca, Tasmania. Photo: Fairfax Graphics
Long the backwater of Australian surfing, the swells that come up from the Roaring Forties have turned Tasmania into a sort of testosterone mecca for men who like riding marine mountains.
In addition to Pedra Branca, Shipstern Bluff (around the corner from Port Arthur) and Dangerous Banks, a shifting sandbar floating around in Bass Strait, have become legendary big wave spots.
Four of the six finalists in the big wave division were Vandemonians. Hollmer Cross' brother, James, took out second place in the category while Danny Griffiths and Mikey Brennan broke their foot and tore knee ligaments respectively during the session.
"Our crew includes an amazing bunch of chargers and photographers that all hang out as mates,'' Tyler Hollmer Cross said.
''Everyone is so supportive and we feed off each other's positive energy and drive. I'm super stoked to receive this award and can't wait to get home and celebrate with the crew in Tassie.''
Former biggest wave winner Laurie Towner, of Yamba, NSW, caught the heaviest, thickest wave at the notoriously cold, dark and dangerous Shipstern Bluff to win the ''biggest slab''category and pocketed $5000.
''Shipstern Bluff is far from my comfort zone, but the thrill of pulling in to waves of that magnitude helps to overcome the fear," Towner said.
The awards also feature the ''biggest paddle-in'' category that was won by Jeff ''Camel'' Goulden for a wave he rode at Outside Critterbeasts near a West Australian seal colony (think sharks).
"After surfing for seven hours the day before, my biggest paddle wave was actually the second wave I caught, very early the next morning. I was still half asleep and I hadn't really noticed how much the surf had grown in size until this wave was bearing down on me,'' Goulden said.