US & Canada

Hawaiian surfer breaks wave-riding record at Nazare, Portugal

A 44-year-old Hawaiian surfer has been recognised by Guinness World Records for riding the biggest wave ever thought to have been ridden.

Last November Garrett McNamara caught a 78ft wave at Nazare, off the coast of Portugal, beating the previous 2008 record by more than a foot.

McNamara began surfing at age 11 and became professional six years later.

He has described his achievement as a stroke of luck and has used his feat to urge people to follow their passions.

The giant wave was located above an underwater canyon famous for being the world's biggest wave generator.

McNamara has said that on the day he broke the record, he at first had not wanted to take a ride but his friends urged him to catch a few waves.

"Everything came together. Everything felt right," he said.

Close scrutiny

Hundreds of thousands have viewed the video and photographs of McNamara's ride. They show his figure dwarfed by a giant wall of water.

"I knew it was big, but I didn't know how big," he said.

He later sent the footage and pictures to surfing expert Sean Collins, who guessed the wave was 85-90ft tall. Collins died in December.

Last week, McNamara was awarded $15,000 (11,600 euros) for the ride at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards in California.

Judges for the awards examined the footage and pictures from different angles.

They also compared McNamara's height in a crouch and the length of his shin bone with the wave's top and bottom before reaching a verdict, event director Bill Sharp told the Associated Press.

Commenting on the record, McNamara said: "The world would be a much better place if everyone was doing what they wanted to do."

However, the UK Guardian newspaper quoted him as saying: "I'm not sure I want to ride that peak again."

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