Surfing is the art of riding a wave on a board that has been a both a leisure and recreational hobby for just under 250 years. When you think of a Navy crew sailing the dangerous seas and fighting battles that lead to death and destruction, you may think of burly men, like those you see in the movies and television shows like “Vikings.” But you may not think of these battling warriors grabbing a board and taking it out to sea to catch a wave — that would be gnarly dude. That’s just what happened. In 1767, off the coast of Tahiti, Samuel Wallis and his crew of the Royal Navy’s survey ship, the Dolphin, are the first known people to engage in the sport of surfing. It’s not yet known if the term “surfs up dude” came from these gnarly dudes.
These strapping men must have sailed home with so much excitement and told all of their burly naval friends about the gnarly fun that they had riding waves on a board. The news traveled fast and the sport of surfing increased in popularity over the years, including with British naturalist, Joseph Banks, who surfed the waves of Tahiti and Hawaii, dating back to 1769.
Lt. James King was the first person to write about surfing in the biography of Captain James Cook, who commanded the HMS Endeavor. Even Mark Twain jumped on the opportunity to write about the gnarly sport. Twain visited Hawaii in 1866 and wrote about the sport that he identified as “surf-bathing.”
Today, surfing is bigger and more dangerous than ever. Thrill seekers today are constantly pursuing their dreams to catch the biggest waves recorded in history. The coast of Nazaré, Portugal, is just the place for these thrill seekers to reach their dreams, with the worlds most treacherous waves exceeding over 7 stories.
Although not commonly mentioned online as a major destination to hit the biggest waves in the world, the coast of Nazaré certainly produces some of the biggest waves at the top of its “crest.” In November 2011, big-wave surfer, Garrett McNamara, broke the world record by surfing a 78 foot wave and just two years later he appears to have broken that record, only to be succeeded by another daredevil, Carlos Burle, October 2013.
I think its important to mention the dangers of big-wave surfing. At the peaks of its “crest” waves can crash a surfer into the water driving them 2 to 4 maybe even 5 stories underwater. This will give surfers 20 seconds or sometimes less to regain their equilibrium and determine which way is up to safely make it back to the top before another deadly wave crashes back down on them. The surfers also must contend with dangerous rocks and reefs that lay below. Its not uncommon for surfers to be slammed into these rocks or reefs and end up with broken bones or worse death.
Surfing appears to have been founded by men — but, award winning female big-wave surfer and thrill seeker, Maya Gabeira, is one who will not shy away from the dangers of riding the deadly waves. Despite one of these deadly waves nearly taking her life in October 2013, Gabeira is back in the water to reach her dreams. She currently holds the record of a female surfing the worlds biggest wave, just over 4 stories or 46 feet.