Big-wave surfer enters record books by riding 78-foot "monster"

LOS ANGELES Fri May 11, 2012 9:49pm EDT

Garrett McNamara of Haleiwa, Hawaii, won the Biggest Wave title at the 2012 Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards with this world record 78-foot wave ridden at Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal on November 1, 2011 shown in this image released to Reuters on May 11, 2012. Big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara has been recognized by Guinness World Records for surfing the largest wave ever ridden, a towering 78-foot (24 -meter) wall of water he says he caught at Nazare, Portugal, in November while ''totally in the moment.'' McNamara's record-setting feat was verified by Guinness after an independent panel of big wave and photography experts painstakingly measured still and video images of the colossal wave, a spokeswoman for the agency said. REUTERS/Wilson Ribeiro/BillabongXXL.com/Handout

Garrett McNamara of Haleiwa, Hawaii, won the Biggest Wave title at the 2012 Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards with this world record 78-foot wave ridden at Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal on November 1, 2011 shown in this image released to Reuters on May 11, 2012. Big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara has been recognized by Guinness World Records for surfing the largest wave ever ridden, a towering 78-foot (24 -meter) wall of water he says he caught at Nazare, Portugal, in November while ''totally in the moment.'' McNamara's record-setting feat was verified by Guinness after an independent panel of big wave and photography experts painstakingly measured still and video images of the colossal wave, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

Credit: Reuters/Wilson Ribeiro/BillabongXXL.com/Handout

Related Video

Related Topics

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara has been recognized by Guinness World Records for surfing the largest wave ever ridden, a towering 78-foot (24-meter) wall of water he says he caught at Nazare, Portugal, in November while "totally in the moment."

McNamara's record-setting feat was verified by Guinness after an independent panel of big wave and photography experts painstakingly measured still and video images of the colossal wave, a spokeswoman for the agency said. (Video: r.reuters.com/fuq28s )

"I was totally in the moment. PCP. Present, connected and protected," McNamara, 44, told Reuters in a phone interview from his home in Haleiwa, Hawaii, on the North Shore of Oahu.

According to Guinness, the epic feat eclipsed by more than 1 foot the previous record, set in 2008 by big-wave surfing great Mike Parsons at Cortes Bank in California.

McNamara, who has surfed professionally since age 17, said he had not planned on going to the beach at all on the day he set the record after spending the entire previous day in waves that "believe it or not were a little bigger."

He said friends woke him up early and persuaded him to come with them and that he went reluctantly -- feeling "beat up" from the day before and only planning to drive the jet-ski used to tow big-wave surfers out far enough to catch the break.

"They talked me into getting on my board," McNamara said. And when I got on the board and they pulled me up with tow rope everything just felt right, it was like magic."

Towed out into a set of enormous waves by the jet-ski, McNamara passed up the first swell when he saw the record-setting behemoth shaping up ominously behind it.

"We saw it coming from way out and my lady Nicole (Macias) was on the radio saying 'there's a big macker coming on the outside!' and telling us where to go," he said. "The guy tried to drive me into the first wave and I'm all 'No, No. 2, No. 2! There was just this monster."

McNamara said he was caught up in the moment as he rode the wave, then worked to stay in control of his board as the colossal wall of water drove him straight toward rocks where "if you fall, there's not much chance of survival."

The surfer said he knew the wave was big but was not sure he had set a record until it was made official last week at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards in Anaheim, California.

"I really just surf for the love of it and I wasn't looking to get the record. I wasn't looking to get any awards," he said.

"One the main reasons I'm doing this is to hopefully inspire at least one person to do what they love, to do what they are passionate about," McNamara said. "I am living proof you can do what you love as a career."

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
AlisonR1 wrote:
That is amazing! That must have been such a rush.

May 11, 2012 12:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.