From spending six years in remote Indonesian jungles to living out of a rusty old van as he trawls the WA coastline, Geoff "Camel" Goulden's life has been dedicated to the pursuit of big waves.
The legendary surfer, 41, who goes by the nickname he was given as a grommet, says his "whole life's design" is based around this quest.
"I hardly own anything, I don't have a wife and kids, I've designed it so if I'm taken by a shark, I'm prepared," Goulden said yesterday.
"It's worth it for me bec-ause my life would be miserable without it. Surfing has given me all the good stuff in my life, all the best feelings in my life, it's what I love."
Before he was named winner of the biggest paddle-in category at last night's Surfing Life's Oakley Big Wave awards, Goulden spoke of the passion that drives big wave surfers on often risky searches for the ultimate wave.
"You get an ultimate wave and you'll be so happy for the first few days (afterwards), on top of the world, but then it never lasts and you fall into a depression when you come back to reality," he said.
"Then you've got to forget that beautiful experience and start to look for it again - it may take another year, or even 10 years."
The day before paddling out to what would become his prize-winning wave, Camel experienced one of those precious moments at Critterbeasts break 20km off the south coast.
"It was a mythical wave, I surfed for seven hours," he said. "It was one of the best surfs of my life, it was what I had been training for and waiting for for months."
_The next day he was exh-austed but returned to the spot with fellow Big Wave fin-alist Sam Jervis. After a 45-minute paddle out, they made the most of the 6m swell. _
Since returning to WA from Indonesia nine years ago Goulden has lived out of his van, roaming along the coastline and picking up work as a surf teacher or repairing boards.
After winning the $5000 prize last night, he said he was grateful to be recognised for the second year running.
"Often just getting out of the water alive and in one piece is enough to make you give a hoot so I'm very thankful to be recognised with this award," Camel said.
"There's a lot going through your head out here when it's that big . . . not only do you have to worry about the very real danger of copping the beating of a lifetime, but the water is cold and with a seal colony close by, there are some very large animals under the ocean that could end your session, and your life, in an instant."
Goulden is well aware of the shark threat, having helped rescue surfer Jon Hines after he was attacked by a shark north of Carnarvon in 2012, but said he did not support a cull.
"I can't believe I haven't been attacked already," Goulden said. "My family know if I die, it's all right.
"If I don't come in from the water one day people can rock up to my car and there will be a few surfboards there, and they can take them."