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Garrett McNamara rides biggest wave ever, according to Guinness

May 11, 2012
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Guinness World Records is acknowledging a 44-year-old Hawaii professional surfer for catching the biggest wave ever, a 78-footer off the coast of Portugal, saying the November run beats a 2008 record by more than a foot.

Big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara of Haleiwa, Oahu, told The Associated Press that the ride of his life was a fluke.

He said he originally didn't want to attempt the waves that day after wiping out numerous times on even bigger swells in the same spot, above an undersea canyon known as one of the biggest wave-generators on the planet.

Article Photos

This Nov. 1, 2011 photo shows Hawaii’s Garrett McNamara surfing what is being called the tallest wave ever ridden, measured by experts as 78 feet, at Portugal’s Praia do Norte beach.
AP file photo

"I was really beat up that morning," he said. "This day, I did not want to get out of bed."

He changed his mind at the urging of friends, once they got into the ocean and he helped others catch a few waves.

"Everything came together," McNamara said Thursday. "Everything felt right."

Video of the run shows a minuscule 5-foot-10-inch McNamara against a wall of water as he lets go of a tow rope and begins riding down the wave at Praia do Norte. He briefly disappears into the break about 10 seconds into the run, then speeds up and remerges from the wave's tube as the swell quickly dissipates.

"I knew it was big, but I didn't know how big," he said.

The official record comes after McNamara was awarded $15,000 for the ride at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards in California last week. Judges for the awards pored over footage and high-resolution still images to calculate an estimate, event director Bill Sharp told the AP.

The previous record was set by Mike Parsons at Cortes Bank in Southern California.



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