Ionce thought a 100-foot wave was impossible to ride. Surely the sheer volume of water within the building wave as it moves across the relative shallows from the deep is too much for a tiny human being to surf ?
Not according to bystanders and surfers who experienced the monster swell in Europe this week.
The wave caught by Carlos Burle this week has been plastered across the media all over the world.
From CNN news to Cape newspapers, we have seen that tiny speck skittishly bouncing down a gargantuan rolling hill like an ant on a garden wall.
They claim it will break the world record of the largest wave ever ridden, which is held by Hawaiian Garret McNamara at the same spot (Nazare in Portugal) on a 100foot wave.
It was a day of drama as a huge winter storm pounded Europe.
Brazilian Maya Gabeira took a heavy wipeout that nearly cost her her life. Sickening footage by a Portuguese TV station shows her roiled by tons of white water like a tiny rag doll in a maelstrom of angry foam.
Her compatriot Burle comes to her aid on a jetski. With a broken ankle and dizzy from the beating and loss of air, she passes out as she grabs the sled.
He accelerates and we see her go underwater, still holding on, creating a wake below the surface.
The tenacity of that was quite something. Even unconscious, she had somehow gripped that thing for dear life. Burle gets her to shore and they resuscitate her.
Then he goes on to ride arguably the biggest wave ever ridden – well over 100 feet, those who saw it say.
“Arguably” becomes quite apt, because of something that the Hawaiian Laird Hamilton said in an interview with CNN afterwards.
The modern- day Greek God, and he of impeachable big-wave credentials, said that Maya should never have been out there in the first place because she did not possess the right skill levels.
He also told CNN (you can catch it on YouTube): “I’d say he (Burle) wiped out on the biggest wave ever ridden, but you can’t expect to ride the biggest wave ever ridden and not finish the ride.”
Of course we know that Laird is no opinionated armchair ignoramus. He pioneered tow-in surfing, particu- larly at the surf spot in Hawaii called Jaws, and he caught the “wave of the millennium” at Teahupoo, Tahiti, in 2000.
He pioneered all sorts of wave craft, and is known as the guy who popularised the Standup Paddle board.
His opinion has elicited a storm of response, with half the surfing world concurring and the other half accusing him of being a jealous hasbeen.
But at no point does Laird say it wasn’t a 100-foot wave, and the great man concedes that even if Burle fell off it, it was still the biggest wave ever ridden.
Neither does he question the way that the wave at Nazare breaks. For me, it seems like a massive sloping