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10 Sensational Guinness World Records in the World of Surfing

by Octavia Drughi

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World records are one of the best ways to become officially amazing. But sometimes, breaking a record involves taking great risks, which might make you wonder what is it that drives people to get into the Guinness Book of Records in the first place? 

Well, that’s just like asking why would an athlete train to run faster or jump higher. Guinness records are more than just facts; they are a way to measure our achievements.

Some world records are downright insane, like the largest rubber-band ball or the longest fingernails. Even in the world of surfing, there are some plain ridiculous achievements, such as stacking as many surfboards as possible on top of a car and driving, or most people riding a single surfboard. Yet they did manage to grab our attention, didn’t they?

When it comes to big wave surfing, there are plenty of heroic achievements worth mentioning. The same goes for kitesurfing and even river surfing.

From the longest waves ever surfed by man or dog all the way to the biggest wave ever ridden, get ready to feast your eyes on the greatest feats in the world of surfing!

 

1. The largest wave ever surfed

surf-nazare-portugal

In November 2011, Garrett McNamara was towed-in by big-wave surfer Andrew Cotton into what was said to have been the largest wave ever ridden, a whopping 78-foot (23.7m) behemoth at Nazaré, Portugal.

The wave was originally estimated to have been over 90 feet (27.4 m) tall, but after further examination by the Guinness records officials, it was agreed that it was “only” 78 feet. McNamara had set a new Guinness World Record for the largest wave ever surfed.

In 2013, the same McNamara claimed to have ridden a 100-foot wave at Nazaré. However, this was never confirmed by Guinness. 

But records at Nazaré continue to be broken.

On November 8, 2017, Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa was towed into an 80-foot (24.38m) wave at Nazaré. In April, 2018, he was awarded the Guinness World Record for the largest wave ever surfed, beating McNamara’s previously held record.

On January 18, 2018, Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira was towed into a 68-foot (20.7m) wave at Nazaré. In October, 2018, she was presented with the Guinness World Record for the largest wave ever surfed by a woman. Maya nearly lost her life in a horrendous wipeout when trying to ride a massive wave at Nazaré in 2013. That did not set her back and instead motivated her to push even harder and finally conquer the wave.

On December 14, 2018, British surfer Tom Butler was towed into a massive wave at Nazaré that was presumably around the 100-foot (30-meter) mark. If acknowledged by Guinness, it would bear Koxa’s record by far. 

Find out all you need to know about surfing in Portugal.

 

2. Longest kitesurfing journeys

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Kite the Reef – Photo credit: Surfer Today

In August 2015, Kite the Reef completed the longest kitesurfing journey by a team – 736 miles (1,184 km). The team consisting of seven members sailed over the Great Barrier Reef from Vlassoff Cay to Cape York between August 13 and 21, 2015, setting a new world record. Team Kite the Reef undertook the challenge in an attempt to raise funds for research into Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

kitesurfing-world-records

Francisco Lufinha kitesurfing – Photo credit: World Record Academy

The longest non-stop kitesurfing journey by a man counted 536 miles (862 km) and was achieved by Portuguese Francisco Lufinha. He traveled by kitesurfing from Lisbon to Madeira in Portugal between July 5 and 7, 2015 in a single, non-stop journey.

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Anke Brandt kitesurfing – Photo by Florian-Reimann

The longest continuous kitesurfing journey by a woman counted 304 miles (489 km) and was achieved by German rider Anke Brandt, who surfed between Amwaj Marina and Al Dar Island in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, in April 2016. It took Anke 30 hours and 30 minutes to complete the ride.

kitesurfing-world-records

Rimas Kinka preparing to set a new record – Photo credit: delfi.lt

The longest kitesurfing journey in 24 hours was completed by Lithuanian Rimas Kinka on February 26, 2012. He sailed for 401 miles (645 km) off the coast of Islamorada, Florida, USA, breaking his previously held record. Rimas plans to set a new record in the near future and hopes to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

 

3. Longest surfing marathon

surfing-world-records

Photo by KODY MCGREGOR via Red Bull

The longest surfing session on record, a whopping 30 hours and 11 minutes, spanned over two days and one night. South African surfer Josh Enslin caught a total of 455 waves, which roughly means one wave every four minutes. He beat the previous record set by American Ben Shaw in North Carolina, who surfed for 29 hours and 27 minutes straight.

surfing-world-records

Photo by Sandy Smyth Coffey

Josh Enslin rode his nine-foot longboard at Pollock Beach in Port Elizabeth, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. The shark-infested, freezing cold water added to the challenge. Josh did not only set a new world record, but he also raised around $2,000 worth of goods for charity.

 

4. Longest wave ride (tidal bore)

river-surfing

Photo credit: worldrecordsurfing.com

On March 10, 2016, Australian James Cotton surfed 10.2 miles (17.2 km) on a tidal bore in Sumatra, Indonesia. The tidal wave on the Kampar River goes by the name of Bono and reaches speeds of 12 mph (20 km/h) and heights of 8 ft (2.5 m), which makes it one of the most impressive river waves in the world. It took James 64 minutes to go the distance, smashing the previous record of 7.6 miles (12.2 km) on the Severn River in Great Britain, held by Steve King.

river-surfing

Photo credit: indosurflife.com

The surfing community only recently discovered the Bono tidal bore by the estuary of the Kampar River. Each year, the Bekudo Bono River Surfing Festival gathers international surfers in the attempt to break the world records for the longest tidal bore ride.

 

5. Largest surf lesson

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Photo credit: guinnessworldrecords.com

On December 15, 2015, 320 people dressed in Santa Claus costumes gathered at Bondi Beach in New South Wales, Australia for a surfing lesson. But they were not there just to learn to surf, they wanted to set a new world record and also raise awareness and money for mental health issues. 

surfing-world-records

Photo credit: RedBalloon

The surf lesson was held by surf school Let’s Go Surfing, gift retailer RedBalloon and surf charity OneWave. It was 30 minutes long and included both on-shore instruction and well as practice in the water. The surfing conditions were perfect, and plenty of beginners managed to take their very first steps on a surfboard in the water, smashing the world record for the largest surf lesson.

 

6. Most people riding a surfboard

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Photo credit: Danny Moloshok/AP Images for Visiting Huntington Beach

On June 20, 2015, on International Surfing Day, a total of 66 people were getting ready to catch a wave at Huntington Beach, California on… one huge surfboard. The group of people aged between 15 and 79 balanced on the board for 12 seconds, smashing the record for the most people riding a surfboard.

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Photo credit: ocregister.com

Guinness officials also examined the surfboard, and later confirmed that it broke the record for the world’s largest surfboard. The fiberglass board was so big that it had to be lifted by a forklift truck: 42 ft 1.5 in (12.83 m) long, 11 ft 1 in (3.37 m) wide and 1 ft 4.4 in (0.41 m) wide.

Heading to the Golden State? Find out what are the best surf spots in California

 

7. Largest paddle out

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Photo credit: latimes.com

International Surfing Day was celebrated in style on June 20, 2017, at Huntington Beach, California. A group of 511 surfers gathered on the beach with the attempt to set a new world record for the largest paddle out. The event was also meant to support surfing at the 2020 Olympics and to promote Huntington Beach as a venue for the 2024 Olympics, should Los Angeles be given the bid.

After nearly two hours of paddling, the surfers managed to join hands and form a ‘Ring of Honor’ that they maintained unbroken for more than 60 seconds. While this was not the largest paddle out circle ever formed at Huntington Beach, it is the first to be attempted under the watchful eyes of the Guinness World Records officials.

 

8. The longest wave surfed by a dog  

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Photo credit: guinnessworldrecords.com

On October 18, 2011, the third annual Surf City Surf Dog event at Huntington Beach, California saw many of man’s best friends lining up at the starting line. Abbie Girl, an Australian Kelpie rescue dog, was among them. But she wasn’t there just to compete, she was there to set a new world record!

surfer-dog

Photo credit: Surfer Today

Abbie was supposed to ride a minimum distance of 30 yards (27.4 m), which is quite a lot even for us humans. Equipped with a GPS tracking device, Abbie jumped into the ocean, confident that she could pull it off. When she returned to shore, it was determined that she surfed a total of 65.62 yards (60 meters), setting a new world record for the longest wave ever surfed by a dog in open water.

 

9. The largest collection of surfboards

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Photo credit: Guinness World Records

Donald Dettloff is the proud owner of the world’s largest collection of surfboards – 647 different board displayed around his property in Haiku, Maui, Hawaii.

collection-of-surfboards

Photo by Jenny

Donald has been collecting the boards for 15 years before Guinness confirmed the record on November 5th, 2009. His collection is known as the ‘surfboard fence’, which he started creating back in 1990.

 

 

10. The longest line of surfboards

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On May 21st, 2016, Laura O’Shaughnessy-Swan invited residents of all ages from Long Beach, New York, USA to gather at the Riverside Boulevard Beach with their surfboards. The result was a continuous line of 685 surfboards that measured 5,517 ft (1,681.85 m). That’s one mile of surfboards!

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Photo credit: liherald.com

The event was meant to bring the City of Long Beach together in love for the ocean following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The previous world record counted 608 surfboards lined along Nobbys Beach in Newcastle, Australia, and was 0.7 miles (1.13 km) long.


Did these amazing feats in the world of surfing inspire you to take up new challenges? Join a budget surf camp in a stunning location and test your limits! 

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