A possibly 100-foot wave off Nazaré, Portugal made headlines on Monday when two Brazilian surfers squared off against the behemoth. Maya Gabeira wiped out, broke her ankle and would have drowned had Carlos Burle not found her and brought her back to shore.
Burle made it down the wave, but claims that he broke the world record for largest wave ever surfed have met criticism from surf veterans like Laird Hamilton, who say that since Burle got hit by the wave at the end of the ride, he only “wiped out on the biggest wave ever ridden.”
Others say it is impossible to measure the wave in the first place, since Nazaré’s unique shape leaves it without a trough, and customary wave measurement is done from the crest to the trough.
Well, make your own opinions about what happened on Monday or any other day at Nazaré. While Portugal gets the limelight this week, unmistakably gigantic surf on Oahu’s North Shore has been ridden without technicality squabbles for decades. Each winter, swells reaching Oahu regularly create waves in the 20-30 foot range, occasionally 40-60 feet, and perhaps even 85-feet at the outer reefs.
Tasmanian photographer Sean Davey has been photographing North Shore surf for most of his career. Below, his work shows that you don’t have to go to Nazaré to see man face nature’s fury.
Kala Alexander, Phantoms
Darryl "Flea" Virostko, Waimea Bay
Garrett McNamara, Avalanche
Kahea Hart, Waimea Bay
Randy Lane, Avalanche
Jamie Sterling, Phantoms