Brazilian surfer Carlos Burle appears to have broken a new world big-wave surfing record, and that is after he saved the life of a fellow surfer.
Burle, 46, took on a monster wave off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal, Monday that appears to have been higher than the 100-foot wave U.S. surfer Garrett McNamara was credited with conquering in January.
The waves off Nazaré, famous for its big wave potential, were so strong Monday that they nearly took the life of fellow Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira, who snapped her ankle and was floating face down in the water before Burle rescued her.
“I don’t think I’ve been so scared in my whole life,” Burle told surfing magazine, Stab, after the rescue. “When she hit the third bump she didn’t manage to jump it and just slammed into it.
“I couldn’t find her,” Burle said. “Then I saw her again but this time she was floating face down. She was heading for the rocks. It was terrible. The worst situation I have ever faced. I raced up to her, jumped off the ski and grabbed her. I couldn’t let her go.”
After performing CPR on Gabeira and ensuring she was safe, Burle jumped back into the water in time to catch what appears to be the history-making wave. He rode the wave all the way to the end, and now must wait as officials from Guinness World Records work to confirm that the wave was indeed taller than 100 feet.
“It was luck,” Burle told Surfer Today. “Maya almost died. For me, it was a big adrenaline moment to get back there after what happened.”
If the wave height is confirmed, Burle will have broken the record held by U.S. surfer McNamara, who set the record for surfing the biggest wave ever ridden, at nearly 80-feet, in 2011, also off the coast of Nazaré.
McNamara of Hawaii was filmed in January surfing what appeared to be a nearly 100-foot wave off the same shores that also had to be verified by Guinness World Records’ officials.
Prior to McNamara’s rides, the previous “big wave” surfing record had been set at 77 feet.
In an interview with ABC News after his 2011 wave, McNamara said a lot of careful planning goes into riding big waves. “I set up ahead of time. … I run through it in my mind over and over. I check through all the safety precautions,” he said.
Gabeira had only a broken ankle and later tweeted a photo of herself from the hospital, where she is in good condition.