The fact that Nazare is more myth than wave at this point in big-wave progression means disputes over the biggest-ever rides usually start, at least among the public, in Portugal, and that John Q. demographic usually points to the video you see above: Garrett McNamara in 2011, towed by Andrew Cotton into a toppling 78-footer (+ or – some). This week, the Guinness World Records Committee – the same governing body that prints the semi-serious record book you spent your grade-school years flipping through – laid down their official verdict: McNamara’s 2011 wave is officially the “Largest Wave Ever Surfed” in the “Unlimited” category.
According to Guinness World Records, the term ‘Unlimited’ means that “the surfer is towed to the wave, enabling them to catch waves that would be too strong to be caught by paddling in.” A panel of big-wave and photography gurus made the call, measuring the wave height from trough to crest at over 23 meters.
Nazaré had a blitz of big rides during March’s last swell from surfers like Lucas Chumbo, Francisco Porcella, Sebastian Steudtner, and others, and because the reasoning used to measure Nazare’s size has always seemed relatively vague compared to the also relatively vague measurements of waves at other venues around the world, the clock’s ticking as to how long McNamara’s 2011 ride will stand as the largest ever. McNamara might even break it, if his purported 100-footer back in 2013 is certified.
Take a watch and decide for yourself.