The video: Last November, 44-year-old pro surfer Garrett McNamara captured the world's attention when he came face-to-face with a monstrous wave just off the coast of Nazare, Portugal. Now, the Guinness Book of World Records has officially recognized the 78-foot slab of ocean as the largest wave ever ridden; McNamara narrowly edges out the previous record, set by Mike Parsons back in 2008, by a foot. With the aid of a jet-ski to tow him in (waves this size are impossible to paddle into manually), McNamara says he first glimpsed the record-setter rumbling in the horizon behind a smaller wave. (Watch a video below.) "The guy tried to drive me into the first wave and I'm all, 'No, number 2. Number 2!' There was just this monster," he said. McNamara, who has surfed professionally since 17, says he was more concerned about avoiding the rocks straight ahead than winning a record. "If you fall, there's not much chance of survival."
The reaction: "Some things just make you feel small," says Chris Paine at The Australian. "This is one of those things." Hats off to McNamara, a genuinely "nice guy" who just happens to surf "crazy-big waves." What makes these particular Portuguese beasts so massive is a deep undersea canyon, says Shane McGlaun at Slashgear, which intensifies swells at a specific point. Riding a wave so huge is on par with pitching a perfect game in baseball, McNamara tells the Associated Press. "But add to that the fact that the stadium could collapse on you at any second." McNamara looks like a "tiny speck" on the wave's surface, says McGlaun. Talk about "giant balls-o-steel." Take a look:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Ted Cruz is the new Sarah Palin
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: October 1, 2014
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- Why the Chinese military is only a paper dragon
- Why America won't have enough money to battle ISIS
- Bill O'Reilly and Stephen Colbert are accidentally having a serious debate on ISIS
Subscribe to the Week