Big wave surfing is no joke. It is a thrilling activity exclusive to the pros. If you are a beginner, while the thought can be exciting, in reality, the activity can be deadly. One wrong move and you will be swallowed by the forces of nature. You will end up endless, and at worst, fighting for your life.
If you are curious to find out more about the biggest waves ever surfed, keep on reading and we’ll let you know some of the most popular surfers who are now forever part of history. Their bravery and accolades are sure to inspire you to become a better surfer!
1. Garrett McNamara
Born in 1967, McNamara is a professional American surfer. In 2011, he gained popularity for having the world-record of the biggest wave ever surfed. This historical moment happened in Nazari in Portugal. The wave was 78 feet, and this achievement was acknowledged by the Guinness World Records. This was not the only time he had a world record. In fact, he held it for eight times.
Aside from the record he made in Portugal, McNamara is known in the surfing community because of the other monstrous waves he was able to catch on separate occasions. For instance, in 2003, it was in Jaws Beach, Hawaii where he caught a mega-barrel but managed to pop out of the wave while he is still in his surfboard.
In another situation, while riding a big wave in Mavericks in Northern California, McNamara experienced a wipeout. It happened in 2016 and was also recognized as one of his biggest wipeouts to date. Because of the incident, he ended up with a dislocated shoulder.
2. Mike Parsons
It was in 2001 when Parsons made headlines for riding a huge wave. During the Billabong XXL Big Wave Award, he was honored with a $66,000 cash prize. It has been claimed that it was the biggest monetary reward in the history of surfing competitions. During his stunt, he dealt with a 66-foot wave at Cortes Bank.
Proving that he is a legend, Parsons made history in 2008 by breaking his own record. Also in Cortes Bank, he rode a 77-foot wave. During that time, he also held the Guinness World Record, but it did not take long before it was out shadowed. In 2011, McNamara surpassed the record of parsons by a mere one foot.
3. Shawn Dollar
In 2012, Dollar received the Guinness World Record for the biggest wave to have been surfed via the traditional paddle-in method. Like the record of Parsons, it also happened in Cortes Bank, which is legendary because of its monster waves. During this incident, he was also bestowed the Billabong XXL Big Wave Award. The waves at Cortes Bank are fast and heavy.
With this, being towed is the conventional choice since paddling can be too tiring and challenging. Dollar, however, rose to the challenge and made a name for himself because of such a courageous act.
The wave that Dollar paddled had a height of 62 feet. Prior to this, he was the holder of the same Guinness title when he paddled his way to a 55-foot wave at Mavericks.
4. Carlos Burle
Burle is a Brazilian surfer who made headlines for riding the largest wave ever. This happened in 2013, right after Europe was hit by one of the most violent storms recorded in its history. The waves in Nazare, Portugal achieved record-breaking heights as an after-math of the storm. This is when Burle made his world record.
One of Burle’s most memorable big wave surfing moments was in 2001 in Mavericks. He rode a wave at a height of 68 feet, which was once considered to be the highest to have been ever recorded. He broke this record during his stint in Portugal where some people claim that the wave has a height of approximately 100 feet. This, however, is yet to be confirmed.
Burle made headlines not only because of the waves he has ridden but also because of a heroic act he did prior to riding what was supposedly the largest wave ever surfed. He saved the life of Maya Gabeira, who was swallowed by a monstrous wave on the same day.
5. Benjamin Sanchis
A big-wave surfer from France, Sanchis could have beaten the record of McNamara, but the problem is that it has no official record from Guinness, so there is no solid basis for such claims. It is said that the wave in Nazare, Portugal had a height of 108 feet. By comparison, the wave in the record of McNamara has a height of 78 feet.
The biggest problem with the situation of Sanchis was that he was not able to finish riding the wave. At the very least, however, we can say that he has the biggest wave attempt in the history of surfing. To be a successful ride, the rules of the Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Award dictates that the surfer must be able to ride a considerable portion of the wave. Unfortunately, this is one thing that Sanchis was not able to do. He fell before he was able to complete the ride.
6. Pete Cabrinha
In 2004, Cabrinha towed a 70-foot wave in Jaws in Maui, Hawaii. Pete has been surfing at a mythical big wave spot in Hawaii for quite some time before he made the record. He and his friends would be towed by a jet ski and would ride humongous waves.
Cabrinha is known as a windsurfer and not much as a big-wave surfer, so when he smashed a world record, it came quite a surprise for many people. Big-wave surfing is new to him, so he was scared when he rode the 70-foot wave. Apparently, his experimentation gained him a Billabong XXL Big Wave Award.
If you go online and do your research about big wave surfing, you might be confused with the information available. One reason for this is because there is no accurate way to measure the height of the waves, making it impossible to determine how tall it is. Nonetheless, based on current information, the surfers above are the ones who are globally popular for the monstrous waves they tackled.