BOARD GAMES

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - Dom Tripolone

Big wave surfer Gar­rett McNa­mara has driven around the world in search of the next mon­ster break. The Amer­i­can keeps break­ing records for surf­ing the largest waves — he rode a 30-me­tre beast off the coast of Nazare in Por­tu­gal, eclips­ing his pre­vi­ous mark of nearly 24m set at the same break.

Many peo­ple would be fa­mil­iar the im­age of McNa­mara, a mi­nus­cule fig­ure, slic­ing down the face of a gi­ant wall of froth­ing wa­ter. But what is al­most as en­ter­tain­ing is the jour­ney in search of the swells.

McNa­mara gets around his home state, Hawaii, in a Mer­cedes-Benz GLE550 — thanks to his role as an am­bas­sador for the Ger­man brand.

The seven-seater SUV suits McNa­mara just fine, lug­ging the fam­ily and friends around while also pam­per­ing the ex­treme wa­ter­man with its mas­sage seats.

But be­fore jump­ing on board with Mer­cedes, McNa­mara had al­ready bought a Benz G550, with the big tough off-roader fill­ing the dual role of fam­ily hauler and surf­board lug­ger.

Ini­tially, McNa­mara’s cars were much more hum­ble but his pas­sion for surf­ing has al­ways given pri­or­ity to ve­hi­cles with in­te­rior space and the abil­ity to fit in a col­lec­tion of surf­boards.

Among his first cars were a Toy­ota Cel­ica hatch and a Volk­swa­gen Rab­bit. “Both had hatch­backs so I could fit my boards in there,” McNa­mara says.

Those ear­lier cars fer­ried McNa­mara around the US to his favourite surf spots.

Then there were mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ences as he trav­elled the globe. “One of my favourite road trips of all time was here, in Aus­tralia, in Western Oz,” he says.

“Five of us piled into the car, and I want to say at least 20, maybe 30 surf­boards on top. It was crazy, it was piled so high. And we just trav­elled around surf­ing.”

In Por­tu­gal, the world’s big­gest waves weren’t the only per­ils McNa­mara had to face. He says the most chal­leng­ing thing to deal with is on the roads — tail­gat­ing driv­ers who “ride your arse like you’ve never been rid­den”.

“Even if they aren’t try­ing to get you to move over they’ll still try and ride you and if there is a one lane road, ev­ery­one will ride so close. It’s scary. [But] there are very min­i­mal ac­ci­dents — I don’t know how they pull it off.”

McNa­mara reck­ons the cra­zi­est place he has ever driven is In­done­sia.

“The rules are: No.1 is size mat­ters, No.2 is see no chicken — that means no mat­ter what you hit, keep go­ing — and No.3 is never look back,” he says.

But when McNa­mara is back on home soil, an all too fa­mil­iar pet peeve pops up. His chief an­noy­ance is what he calls “the Hawai­ian road­block”.

“It never hap­pens in Europe, and I’m not sure how of­ten it hap­pens here in Aus­tralia, but in Hawaii and all over the United States no­body knows what a fast lane is,” he says.

“And no­body knows that the fast cars go in them and the slow cars go in the other lanes.

“They stack them up and on a three-lane high­way there will be three cars side-by-side not let­ting you by.”

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