Remember the guy who rode the alleged 100-foot wave? Here's a video of some other tow-in surfers from that same location (Nazare, Portugal) on the same day. The waves aren't quite as big as 100 feet, but the sequence starting at 1:52, where the guy falls off his board and swims like hell to get out of the way before the whole ocean crashes down on top of him (watch the top of the wave), gives you a real sense of how insane this sport is.
There's some weird perspective stuff going on with this photo (do those waves break right on shore?) but holy crap look at the size of that fucking wave!
The teeny speck speeding down that wall of water is Garrett McNamara, who already holds the world record for the largest wave ever surfed and will likely extend that record with this estimated 100-footer.
There's no video of the ride but in this promotional video, I think you can briefly see McNamara riding the monster wave at 38 seconds and perhaps again at 42 seconds.
Garrett McNamara rode a wave off of Nazare, Portugal last November that some surfing experts billed at 85-90 feet. This would have smashed the world record wave height of 77 feet held by Mike Parsons. However, last month, after judges compared "McNamara's height in a crouch and the length of his shin bone with the wave's top and bottom," the Guinness Book of World Records decided the wave was 78 feet and gave him the record. To get a feel for McNamara's feat, go find an 8 story building and imagine riding down it on a surfboard.
Friday night, getting late? Perfect time to watch a slow motion surfing video. It's only a minute and a half, but it feels like it's at least two minutes and fifteen seconds. Just beautiful. It's body boarding, but it's about the waves anywave, right?
Later he told me it was like skiing down an avalanche chute in the mountains. He said, "You know that feeling you get when you're going over a cornice and it's just straight down after that?" He counted the seconds. He went, "One. Two. Three. Four!" Already it was a long drop, and the wave kept rising higher. "Five! Six! Seven! Eight!" He went, "Holy shit!," and kept dropping. He went, "Don't fade! Don't even imagine it!" He got toward the base of the face, still well above the bottom, and rounded out of the drop as the surface curvature allowed. Bradshaw had never seen such wave expanses before-huge fields of sloping water to the right. He was aware of the mass gathering above and behind him. He went, "I gotta get out of here, now!" He dug his right rail in, banking the board hard against its will, and held it with all of his strength into a carving right turn. The turn was slow because the board was fast. Bradshaw kept at it, however, and went slicing up the wave face almost to the crest. He was briefly elated. Technically he had "made" the wave, but he wasn't done with it yet. From the crest he turned again and went angling back down the face. He intended to perform a full cutback toward the break, but no sooner had he started than a roar erupted behind him as the wave formed a giant barrel. The barrel spat spray at him from its throat. There was no way into that barrel from his position, and it blocked any turn back toward the core of the wave. The ride was almost over for Bradshaw. It had lasted 30 seconds, or hardly more. He exited straight ahead and over the wave's shoulder. He was angry with himself. He thought that he should have been in that barrel, and that he would have been if he had not shied away from the peak at the start of the ride. He did not care about having made history-and did not consider it until others began to insist on it that night. He did not even think that this had been a great run. He thought, Shit, I should have faded.
After committing to a wave, the surfer must confront the sheer tonnage of hurtling water and hit a 10-foot-wide slot of the best spot to launch a ride with pinpoint timing, a maneuver that Washburn has described as akin to "trying to place a Dixie cup on the horn of a charging rhino."
With a second major storm bearing down, four of the most experienced big-wave surfers in the world launched a boat and two Jet Skis toward Cortes Bank, an underwater mountain range whose tallest peak rises 4,000 feet from the ocean floor to within about four feet of the surface. The perilous spot, about 100 miles off the coast of Southern California, had been surfed only a handful of times in the past decade. With just the right conditions, its shallow waters turn huge ocean swells into giant, perfect breaking waves.
Cortes Bank veteran Mike Parsons returned from the voyage absolutely certain that larger sea monsters are awaiting around the spooky open-ocean shoal. "It's getting closer and closer now...I guarantee you there will be a 100-foot-wave ridden out there," said Parsons. "For sure. There were several big peaks that jumped up at the top of the reef outside of us that could not have been too far off that size. If you put yourself in the right place at the right time, it will happen. It's only a matter of time now."