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

Fri May 11, 2012 9:49pm EDT
 
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By Dan Whitcomb

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.   Continued...

 
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