In 1990 Hawaii's Ronnie Burns lost his life in a motorcycle accident in the hills behind Velzyland on the North Shore. Cut from similar cloth as the late Sion Milosky, Burns was an inspirational local talent and an emerging star on a more global level.
A role model for hard-scrabble groms like Mark Healey and Jamie Sterling, his act at Sunset, Pipeline and more infamous North Shore reefs provided them with something to strive for. Before his death, Burns and Sterling's mom had been dating, and he'd stepped in as a father figure for the future big wave world champion.
This past Saturday at the Surfing Heritage Foundation in San Clemente, Sterling stood at the podium at the Big Wave World Tour awards and dedicated the biggest accomplishment of his life to Milosky. One could feel the spirit of Burns reverberating off the antique boards lining the walls.
"You dream of something like this when you're a kid," Sterling said, "but standing here in front of all my friends, all of these people that I have so much respect for, it's unreal."
Wearing a grin from ear to ear, Sterling also noted, "This has been the best year of my life. To win this, and I have a baby boy due in eight days, life is just amazing right now."
Check out one of Jamie's adventures, this time on Lake Superior:
Sterling was a finalist in all of the three BWWT events in 2010/11, winning the billabong Pico Alto event in Peru. He took home a cool $10,000 for the effort.
BWWT organizers are currently in talks with a potential suitor that would elevate the tour to new heights, but at this time nothing has been announced. The 2011/12 season is currently underway with the Quiksilver Ceremonial Punta de Lobos, Chile, in its waiting period from April 1 to May 31.
"Bigger and better things," says Sterling, "I can't wait for next year."
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