Surfing legend Garrett McNamara holds the Guinness World Record of riding the highest wave in history and on Monday, he may have done himself one better. It’s believed that the professional surfer caught a wave measured up to 100 feet off the coast of Nazare, Portugal, beating his own record of riding a wave of 78 feet in height. Here’s what you need to know about the surfing legend and his amazing accomplishment.
1. Garrett McNamara Started Surfing When He Was Just 11-Years-Old
Garrett McNamara was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, but moved to Hawaii when he was 11 years old. He took after his brother, Liam McNamara, and began surfing at Sunset, Waimea, searching the outer reefs for giant swells.
2. He Started Competing Professionally at the Age of 17
McNamara began surfing professionally at the age of 17 where he placed in the Hawaiian Triple Crown Series surfing competition. He and his brother began getting major Japanese sponsors and they joined the competition circuit, traveling and becoming fluent in Japanese.
3. McNamara Currently Holds the Guinness World Record for Highest Wave Surfed
The professional surfer earned a place in the Guinness World Record for the highest wave ever surfed in 2011. It took almost a year for the record to be confirmed, but a panel of experts announced the record at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards.
4. He Beat The Record Held by Mike Parson
McNamara beat out Mike Parson for the highest wave ever surfed by just one foot. The surfer caught a 77-foot wave at Cortes Bank in 2008, beating his own record of surfing a 64-foot wave in 2003.
5. McNamara is Believed to Have Beaten His Own Record
On Monday, Garrett McNamara also may have beaten his own record by catching a wave along the coast of Nazare, Portugal that is believed to be about 100 feet in height. European surf photographer To Mane captured the remarkable moment. Check the video out above to see for yourself.
6. He Caught the Wave in the Same Spot as his Last Record Breaking Surf
McNamara caught the possible record breaking wave at the same location as his last surfing feat. Both waves were caught in Nazare, Portugal, where a 1,000-foot underwater canyon acts as a funnel, amplifying swells. Nazare is widely considered one of the best wave spots in the world.
7. But One Oceanographer Says The Wave Looks Smaller than 100 Feet
Pat Caldwell, a friend of McNamara’s and an oceanographer with NOAA, says that after viewing the wave at an alternate angle, he believes that the wave may might not be as high as previously thought. Caldwell estimates that the wave is actually just 60 feet in height, not even reaching his previous record-breaking wave’s height. He also notes that the wave behind him is much bigger. Either way, it was an impressive feat.
8. He Risked His Life to Ride the Wave
The record-breaking surfer risked his life to accomplish the task. He could have been forced dozens of feet beneath the water or even slammed into a reef or the ocean floor had he wiped out on Monday.
9. McNamara’s Record-Breaking Career Began in 2007
In 2007, the surfer became the first human being to ever ride a wave created by a calving glacier. McNamara camped out for three weeks by a 400 foot glacier, waiting for the perfect wave as mountain-sized blocks of ice broke off and fell into the water.
10. He’s Also an Advocate of Stand Up Paddling
McNamara has recently taken the hobby of Stand Up Paddling. Stand up paddling is a form of ancient surfing than enables surfers to paddle longer distances. A paddle is used to propel surfers across the surface of the water while standing up. McNamara added his own twist to the sport by designing his own stand up paddle boards for a more extreme experience.