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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Wave of the year?

By Jake Howard

Garrett McNamara has spent most of the winter ensconced in the typically quiet, coastal Old World village of Nazaré, Portugal. He's been waiting to ride a wave that will hopefully break the world record he set there last year when he rode a 78-footer.

Seemingly throwing in the towel, on Jan. 23 McNamara tweeted, "Oh how I love Nazare Cant wait for next year!!"

What a difference a week makes. The North Atlantic has been getting absolutely pummeled by swell, but nowhere's been so freakishly monstrous as Praia do Norte, just offshore from Nazaré.

On Jan. 28 social media channels exploded with a singular image of McNamara bombing down the face of a massive wave of undetermined height.

Last winter McNamara rode what the "Guinness Book of World Records" has determined to be the biggest wave ever ridden on a surfboard, and while all of the photographic and video evidence of his Jan. 28 escapade is still being gathered, the initial belief is that this ride will surpass the world record.

Kealii Mamala
McNamara's tow partner Kealii Mamala gets one of his own.

"Once again Garrett was in the right place at the right time. It is another massive wave for sure, produced by an amazing Atlantic storm," noted XXL Awards mastermind Bill Sharp. "The determination of its size will occur just before the next Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards to be held May 3, 2013. It's too early for me to make any estimates at this point as that photo makes it somewhat difficult to determine where the bottom of the wave is. The telephoto foreshortening, the downward angle, the mist in the air and the flat lighting are all factors so I look forward to seeing all the other angles of the wave and the video as well. But there's no question it is an enormous wave and another epic achievement in surfing."

"I've never seen anything like it," noted surf photography legend and longtime Billabong XXL judge Jeff Divine upon first seeing the photo.

For his part McNamara appeared humble and gracious, tweeting, "Thank you for all your support. It means the world to me. Today was an awesome day and so fun to be out there."

Not so sure about the "fun to be out there" part -- the lineup looked like a battle zone -- but for now it would appear that McNamara has set the big-wave bar higher still.