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Anyone who has ever tried surfing, knows how taxing it is to ride a wave that lasts just a few minutes. Therefore, you can only imagine how hard it must have been to ride one that lasted for an astounding 41.3 miles, whilst battling some pretty rough water and wind conditions.
This amazing feat was completed on March 19th, by Panama's 13-time national surfing champion, Gary Saavedra, as a challenge to test his own endurance. Sponsored by Red Bull, the event took place in the 77km long Panama Canal that connects the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and acts as a conduit for commercial shipping vessels to transition smoothly, from one to the other.
Gary's incredible journey began early Saturday morning at the Gatun Lake and then continued onto Amador Causeway in the Southern entrance of the Panama Canal, where he was greeted by a crowd of cheering fans.
While riding the two-foot artificial wave, created by a wakesurfing boat, Gary had to battle 20-knot winds and choppy ocean waters, caused by the large freighters making their way across the canal.
Despite the fact that Gary had been training for many months, the 33-year old who is often referred to as the best surfer in Panama's history, described it as one of toughest rides he had ever done. He almost fell off the board about eight times during the first hour alone and was really fatigued after the third hour. But, the true athlete that he is, he persevered for another 55 minutes, before a severe thigh spasm, forced him to retire.
However, his effort was not in vain. Gary's latest feat, which he calls the biggest achievement of his professional career so far, earned him two Guinness World Records - The longest time spent surfing a wave in open water and the greatest distance surfing in open water. He also made history by becoming the first surfer ever allowed to surf the Panama Canal. Pretty awesome, isn't it?
Resources: grindtv.com, surfertoday.com, redbull.com