Sunday, May 19, 2024

Surf’s up… and up and up: German surfer Sebastian Steudtner claims world record after riding ‘unsurfable’ 93.7ft wave in Portugal

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A German surfer may have broken his own record for riding the biggest wave in history – claiming that the wall of water stood at a staggering 93.7ft.

Sebastian Steudtner says he surfed the ‘unsurfable’ at the famed big wave spot of Nazaré in Portugal, earlier this year.

The 38-year-old currently holds the Guinness World Record with a wave he surfed in 2020, also in the fishing village, which stood at an incredible 86ft.

While big wave surfing record attempts have historically been measured by analysing footage and pictures, innovative drone technology was used in Steudtner’s latest undertaking.

‘Mission Wave Alpha’ has seen him train for the perfect wave for years, and the extreme athlete decided that the time was right to surf the biggest waves of his life when Nazaré saw ‘historic’ conditions back in February.

Dramatic aerial footage shows Sebastian Steudtner carving down huge foaming waves in Nazaré, Portugal

The 38-year-old currently holds the Guinness World Record with a wave he surfed in 2020

The 38-year-old currently holds the Guinness World Record with a wave he surfed in 2020

Crowds gather in Nazaré, Portugal, as Steudtner was filmed making the record attempt back in February

Crowds gather in Nazaré, Portugal, as Steudtner was filmed making the record attempt back in February

Steudtner chose February 24 thanks to it being ‘the biggest storm and the biggest waves in the past three or four years’.

‘We were, for the first time, surfing the biggest waves in stormy conditions which were considered unsurfable,’ he said.

Waves in Nazaré can reach the height of a ten-storey building, and are formed due to an underwater canyon off the coast which is three miles deep.

Surfers have suffered serious injuries attempting the mountainous waves, and last year veteran Brazilian surfer Marcio Freire lost his life after falling from his board.

Dramatic aerial footage shows Steudtner carving down huge foaming waves, knowing one mistake could see him fall from the terrifying heights.

Video, shared to his Instagram, also shows him being towed into the huge waves by a jet-ski, which allows wave riders to get onto some of the world’s biggest masses of water.

There were suggestions from observers that some of the waves may have exceeded the mythical mark of 100ft – a height which Steudtner has set his sights on to surf.

Sebastian Steudtner says he surfed the 'unsurfable' at the famed big wave spot of Nazaré in Portugal, earlier this year

A drone can be seen hovering over one of the towering waves Steudtner surfed in February

Video, shared to his Instagram, shows Steudtner being towed into the huge waves by a jet-ski

Video, shared to his Instagram, shows Steudtner being towed into the huge waves by a jet-ski

'Mission Wave Alpha' has seen the German athlete train for the perfect wave for years

‘Mission Wave Alpha’ has seen the German athlete train for the perfect wave for years

Porsche helped him with training during their partnership over the last three years, with Steudtner’s extreme training seeing him take to a surfboard inside a wind tunnel designed for cars.

The car makers’ engineers also developed state-of-the-art drones to help measure the waves for the surfers’ record attempt. 

The official confirmation of new world record lies with official governing body the World Surf League. 

Marcus Schmelz, Project Manager at Porsche Engineering, said he believes the tech can help ‘advance the sport of surfing’.

Steudtner's extreme training saw him take to a surfboard inside a wind tunnel designed for racing cars

Steudtner’s extreme training saw him take to a surfboard inside a wind tunnel designed for racing cars

The car makers' engineers developed state-of-the-art drones to help measure the waves

The car makers’ engineers developed state-of-the-art drones to help measure the waves

‘Our goal is to further increase transparency in big wave surfing and to provide accurate measurement data more quickly,’ he said. 

‘The record to me is definitely secondary to actually riding the wave and everything that goes into it,’ Steudtner told CNN Sport. 

‘I think what was special about this last big day in February was that we surfed conditions that never have been surfed before.’

The biggest wave ever surfed by a woman was completed by Maya Gabeira in 2020, also in Nazaré.

The Brazilian was towed into a 73.5ft wave, which was also the biggest of the year and beat her own previous record of 68ft. 

Steudtner’s fearless feat comes after a new women’s big wave world record for paddling in was set last year by Australian Laura Enever.

Fearless Aussie Laura Enever has written herself into the Guinness Book of World Records after surfing the biggest wave ever ridden by a woman

Fearless Aussie Laura Enever has written herself into the Guinness Book of World Records after surfing the biggest wave ever ridden by a woman

On January 22 2023, Enever paddled into a monster 43.6ft wave at the notorious Himalayas break on Hawaii‘s north shore.

‘I knew it was big when I paddled into it and then when I took off I looked down and I knew it was definitely the biggest wave I’ve ever caught,’ she said. ‘I knew it was the wave of my life.’

The 31-year-old from Sydney was on the WSL professional tour for seven years before boldly deciding to pursue her passion of big wave surfing.

The men’s record for paddling-in, which involves entering waves unassisted, is held by Hawaii’s Aaron Gold, who surfed a 63ft wave in 2016.

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