It seems like the world record for the biggest wave ever surfed is being broken so often it’s almost getting boring. Not for those surfing these monster waves, of course. Nothing could be less boring than riding a 100 foot (30 meter) wave which could crush you to death at any moment. Just ask Brit Andrew Cotton, perennial member of that trio of potentially record-smashing big wave surfers, which also includes the most well-known big wave surfer, American Garrett McNamara and Brazilian Carlos Burle, who broke or at least challenged the record last year. Add female big wave queen Maya Gabeira and you’ve got a nice little quartet of daredevils who look almost as good on dry land as they do on the waves.
Actually, any of the three (Cotton, McNamara and Burle) could have ridden the biggest wave ever surfed. Waves are not known for holding still while someone gets out the tape measure. But since the latest to fuel speculation of the world record while crowds and cameras were present at Nazaré on Portugal’s coast is Andrew Cotton, let’s just say he’s the moment’s big kahuna of the triumvirate of big wave surfing kings. Did you like that turn of phrase?
Facing such gigantic waves requires surfers to enlist a little extra help to line themselves up to ride the huge expanse of water. And so part-time pro-surfer, plumber and lifeguard Mr Cotton was carried by jet ski to catch the wave. Towed in by fellow surfer Garrett McNamara, the current world-record holder for a 78ft wave, he admits the conditions were far from ideal.
It was definitely bordering on unsurfable. It was a very intimidating, bumpy and far from perfect session. But it was another key learning experience for surfing giant waves, which is really important for me at this point.