Surfing record-holder awaits 'monster' wave in Portugal

Wed Apr 9, 2014 10:53am EDT
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By Axel Bugge

NAZARE, Portugal (Reuters) - World-renowned American surfer Garrett McNamara holds a record for riding a 78-foot (24-m) wave - the largest ever surfed. Now he wants to find one almost twice as big.

"You know every wave is so different," McNamara said, looking out at the Atlantic Ocean from the village of Nazare in Portugal.

"It just depends on the ride, like when you come down and you don't make the wave and you get blown up and you just feel like so small, but also so alive, because you're at the mercy of this monster and its gotten hold of you and shaking you and rattling you," he told Reuters.

McNamara, 46, from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has had countless experiences like that scouring the world for the wildest rides.

He set his first record on what he calls the "Holy Grail of huge waves" in Nazare (Portuguese for Nazareth) in 2011. Ever since, he has been scouring the horizon for the next one.

"It would be nice to ride a 100-foot wave next. Well, actually I'd probably go for a 120-footer," he said.

McNamara has achieved what few athletes have managed - to follow his passion all his life. He started surfing aged 11 and never stopped.

At 35 - a mature age in many demanding sports - he sat down and sketched a plan on how to keep going as a professional.   Continued...

Big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara of the U.S. eats an apple before a surf session at Praia do Norte in Nazare November 1, 2013. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante