How long do you think you could stand on a surfboard while riding a wave?
Panama’s Gary Saavedra, intent on discovering his limitations, surfed a wave created by a boat moving through the Panama Canal for 3 hours, 55 minutes and two seconds, while spanning a distance of 41.3 miles.
The 13-time national surfing champion set Guinness World Records for longest time and distance surfed on open water. (England’s Steve King had held the time record: 1 hour, 6 minutes, set while riding a tidal bore wave in 2006. The distance record is new.)
Saavedra, who traversed through choppy water and was rocked constantly by the wakes of giant freighters, said afterward: “This record feels incredible. I had never confronted these conditions and to surpass all these challenges and establish two Guinness records is the biggest achievement of my professional career so far.”
Saavedra, a Red Bull sponsored athlete participating in one of the company’s projects designed to test human limits, had hoped for a much longer ride but a severe thigh spasm forced him to abandon his quest.
“After the third hour, my body was very tired,” he said. “I almost fell eight times. In the first hour, I worked very hard and used all my energy. The weather was harsh … I had never trained in such conditions.”
Thie unusual odyssey began Saturday at 6:40 a.m. in Gatun Lake within the canal. Saavedra surfed toward the east behind a two-foot wave created by a wakeboarding boat.
The video posted below provides just a glimpse of the operation. If what Saavedra accomplished looks easy, imagine yourself standing on a small board for nearly four hours. Then imagine the board moving atop shifting water, and having to maintain proper position in the wave to maintain speed and avoid falling back into flat water and ending the ride.
Said Michael Janela, a Guinness spokesman who certified the records: “Everyone that breaks a record does something incredible but what Gary did was truly amazing. He pushed himself to an unbelievable limit where the only thing that stopped him was his body, not his will.”
Check out the video: