McNamara surfs on the world's largest wave ever ridden

Big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara has been recognised by Guinness World Records for surfing the largest wave ever ridden, a towering 78-foot wall of water he caught at Nazare, Portugal, in November 2011.

An independent panel of experts measured photographs and video images of the wave to verify his record.

Mr McNamara, 44, from Haleiwa, Hawaii, said it had been a struggle to control his surfboard as he rode the wave towards some rocks and said "if you fall, there's not much chance of survival."

According to Guinness, the wave was only one foot higher than the previous record, set in 2008 by big-wave surfing great Mike Parsons at Cortes Bank in California.

Mr McNamara, who has surfed professionally since the age of 17, said he had not planned on going to the beach at all on the day he set the record after spending the entire previous day in waves that "believe it or not were a little bigger."

He said friends woke him up early and he went with them reluctantly after feeling "beat up" from the day before.

He said he had planned to stick to driving the jet ski used to tow big-wave surfers out far enough to catch a breaking wave.

"They talked me into getting on my board," McNamara said. "When I got on the board and they pulled me up with tow rope everything just felt right, it was like magic.

"We saw it coming from way out and my lady Nicole (Macias) was on the radio saying 'there's a big macker coming on the outside!' and telling us where to go.

"The guy tried to drive me into the first wave and I'm all 'No, No. 2, No. 2! There was just this monster."

"I was totally in the moment."

The surfer said he knew the wave was big but was not sure he had set a record until it was made official last week at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards in Anaheim, California.

"I really just surf for the love of it and I wasn't looking to get the record. I wasn't looking to get any awards," he said.

"One the main reasons I'm doing this is to hopefully inspire at least one person to do what they love, to do what they are passionate about," McNamara said. "I am living proof you can do what you love as a career."

Have you been surfing on your gap year? Ever ridden one as big as 'McNamara's Monster'?

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Photo of Garrett McNamara via YouTube