05/12/2011 | by Alex Dick-Read
Is this the biggest wave ever ridden? Some say so.
The video is below, but first, here’s the story that laid the claim, by Kilian Doyle of the Irish Times:
“Hawaiian hellman Garrett McNamara has cheated death to ride what is being billed as the largest wave ever surfed.
The big wave rider caught the huge 30m (90 feet) monster earlier this month off the coast of Nazaré in central Portugal.
McNamara was tow-in surfing at Praia do Norte with Northern Irish man Al Mennie and English surfer Andrew Cotton when he caught the giant wave.
“Everything was perfect, the weather, the waves. Cotty and I surfed two big waves of about 60 feet and then, when Garrett was ready, came a canyon wave of over 90 feet,” said Mennie.
“The jet ski was the best place to see him riding the biggest wave I’ve ever seen. It was amazing. Most people would be scared, but Garrett was controlling everything in the critical part of the wave. It was an inspiring ride by an inspiring surfer.”
Praia do Norte is home to one of the only deep water canyons runs all the way to shore in Europe. It funnels large swells from the Atlantic Ocean and, under the right conditions, can create massive waves that dwarf those along the rest of the Portuguese coast.
McNamara has been working with the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute as part of the ZON North Canyon Project to understand how the waves reach such record-breaking heights at this particular point.
“As I rode this wave, it seemed pretty massive, but I couldn’t tell quite how big it was,” McNamara told surf forecasting website Surfline. “When I got to the bottom and turned and got around the wave and went to kick out, it landed on me and it felt like a ton of bricks. Probably one of the most powerful waves ever to land on me at the shoulder. It was pretty amazing.””