“Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear.” Buzzy Trent
Surfing is nothing but controlled falling in moving water, but this is a jaw dropper. Garrett McNamara is a professional big wave surfer who travels a world wide circuit, and on this particular outing off the shores of Portugal, he caught a rogue wave, estimated to be 90 feet tall at the crest. Here’s another take:
Garrett McNamara caught a monstrous wave Tuesday off Nazaré in Portugal, but did the wave face measure anywhere close to 90 feet, as a witness in the surfer’s group implied and as news reports suggested? Is it the largest wave ever ridden, as stated in the headline of a news release issued after the epic tow-surfing session?
It was, without doubt, an amazing performance by the big-wave surfing icon from Hawaii. The wave face, however, does not appear to measure 90 feet. It’s worth noting, though, that footage captured from up high or far away, as was mostly the case here (there is some helmet-cam footage), can be misleading.
McNamara, a big-wave surfing icon from Hawaii, was riding large waves with Andrew Cotton and Al Mennie when three gigantic waves appeared on the outside. Cotton used a personal watercraft to tow McNamara onto the massive shoulder of one of those rogue waves. Mennie was siting in the channel on another vessel, acting as lifeguard, and described the event: “Everything seemed to be perfect, the weather, the waves. Both Cotty and I rode two big ones in the 60-foot-plus range and then when Garrett got on the rope a wave, maybe 30 feet bigger, came out of the canyon.
A fifteen-foot tall wall of water intimidates many surfers, but the guys who get the most credit are those running the towing operation on huge offshore breaks. They time the swells, estimate the breaks, and after dropping their cargo of brass balls off of a multi-story tower of water, manage to escape with their lives.
Fortunately, most of us don’t deal with that kind of awe-inspiring death-defying thrill-seeking bravado because we can be internet dare-devils instead.