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Surfer Rides a Record-Breaking 80-Foot Wave

Zac Ahlers, Copy Editor

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In November 2017 Rodrigo Koxa rode a record breaking wave in Nazare, Portugal. On Saturday, May 5, at the World Surf League’s 2018 Big Wave Awards, the Brazilian surfer’s wave was recognized as the largest wave ever surfed reaching 80 feet tall. This beat the previous record of 78 feet by Garrett McNamara, also in Nazare, Portugal in 2011.

Koxa said that as huge as the wave ended up being he did have some knowledge of what was in store, even before the Jet Ski towed him straight into the giant wave. “I had an amazing dream the night before, where I was talking to myself: ‘You gotta go straight down. You gotta go straight down.’ I didn’t really know what it meant. But I figured somebody was talking to me,” said Koxa,

“When I got my wave, I let go of the rope, I started to use my rail to angle towards the shoulder, but then realized, if I used my rail, I’d never get deep. And then I remembered: ‘Go straight down.’ When I said it, I remembered my dream. I turned and I almost fell, but then I got my feet again and went super fast. I’ve never had a big wave like that where I didn’t use the rail at all. Just went straight down. It was amazing.”

The reason it took so long for this wave to be recognized as the largest wave if because of the way that it had to be measured. Surfer Magazine’s photo editor, Grant Ellis, who is among the Big Wave Award Judges said, “”It starts with a handful of big-wave statesmen and experts gathering in a room in Huntington Beach, California, discussing each of the nominated rides at length, and then busting out the ruler and calipers. Using oversized images of the waves, and the known heights of each surfer, they estimate the surfer’s crouching height at the moment the photo was taken, creating a scale that they can then use to determine the overall height of the wave, from trough to lip. And then, bingo — you’ve got a reasonably accurate measurement on a monster wave.”

Koxa wasn’t the only surfer to win a Big Wave Award on May 5. Other surfers that went on amazing rides also earned awards in different categories. This includes prizes such as best overall performance, best paddle and best wipeout. All are huge accomplishments in the surfing community and definitely beatable in the years to come.

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Surfer Rides a Record-Breaking 80-Foot Wave