When Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa flawlessly rode a massive wave in Nazare, Portugal on November 8, 2017, he knew it was the biggest one of his life, thus far. What the 38-year-old was unaware of, however, is that his thrilling descent down the monstrous surge, would set a new Guinness World Record for the largest wave ever surfed.
The World Surf League (WSL) made the announcement at the Big Wave Awards held in Santa Monica on April 28, 2018. The WSL determined that Koxa’s wave measured an astounding 80 feet, surpassing the 78-foot wave record set by American Garrett McNamara in 2011. In addition to the world record, Koxa was also bestowed with the Quiksilver XXL Biggest Wave Award, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize and is awarded annually to a surfer who catches the biggest waves by any means — paddling into it or being towed by a jet ski.
What makes the achievement even more remarkable is that in 2014, Koxa nearly lost his life while attempting to ride a big wave in Portugal. When accepting the honor, the emotional athlete said, "I've tried to surf big waves all my life and I had a huge experience in 2014 where I almost died at Nazaré. Four months later, I had bad dreams, I didn’t travel, I got scared, and my wife helped me psychologically.
"Now, I’m just so happy and this is the best day of my life. Thank you to WSL, it’s a dream come true."
According to the Guinness World Records, the record for the largest wave surfed has inched up dramatically since 2004, when American surfer Pete Cabrinha took the honor for riding a 70-foot wave off Maui, Hawaii’s North Shore. In 2008, fellow American Mike Parsons surpassed the achievement by surfing a 77-foot monster off the Southern California coast. It took three years for McNamara to best that with a 78-foot giant in 2011, and almost seven more for Koxa to outdo that! While only time will tell if any surfer will be able to ride a bigger wave, it sure will not be for lack of trying!
Resources: guinnessworldrecords.com, LAtimes.com, cnn.com