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How do you surf a 100ft wave?

In January, 45-year-old Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara surfed the biggest wave ever ridden, at Nazaré, near Lisbon. He tells us how (and why)

How do you surf a 100ft wave?

"I planned for years for this wave. Three years ago I came to Nazaré for the first time and I found the holy grail of big waves. There's a canyon that runs 1,000 feet (305m) below the surface of the water and breaks when it hits the beach - it's very rare, and more unpredictable and dangerous than most big waves, especially as it's ridden with fishing nets.

"It was just a case of waiting for the right storm. My team and I monitored this wave for seven days from Hawaii and at the last minute jumped on a plane - that was a risk, because the waves in the Atlantic can be unpredictable and can suddenly dissipate. But this storm stayed on track - the conditions were perfect.

"The record hasn't been confirmed yet, but I've got the current world record [a 78ft/24m wave in Nazaré in 2011] and I know this wave was bigger. My wife Nicole [who's part of McNamara's support team] says she knows it was 100ft/30.5m high.

"Strangely, I didn't get much of a rush from it. I used to get this huge rush riding big waves, but I'm so used to it now. I almost like to get pounded by a wave just to feel that buzz.

"People think I'm crazy, but I'm calculated crazy. When they realise the physical, psychological and spiritual preparation that goes into this, they realise. To me, surfing big waves is safer than driving down the highway. I'm just comfortable in the ocean - I'm uncomfortable doing interviews, but in the water I'm free.

"Nazaré has to be the best place on the planet to surf big waves and to watch them. But you don't have to be a surfer to love it - it's like an old fishing village stuck in time. The lighthouse there is like the eighth wonder of the world, and there's great food, lifestyle and beauty - and it's cheap."


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