Guinness World Records announced this week that a wave ridden by Shawn Dollar last December at Cortes Bank is the largest ever surfed via the traditional paddle-in method.
The wave, according to Guinness, measured 61 feet from trough to crest. Dollar replaces Shane Dorian, who successfully rode a 57-foot wave at Jaws off Maui in 2011, as the record holder.
Cortes Bank is a submerged seamount 100 miles west of Southern California, and big-wave surfers in recent years have begun surfing there when giant swells sweep down from the north.
Because the wave is so large and the swells are so fast-moving, as is the case at Jaws, most surfers catch them with specialized boards via tow rope behind personal watercraft. The paddle method is considered much more daunting.
Tow-surfers are able to catch larger waves, and the world record in the Unlimited category belongs to Garrett McNamara, who rode a 78-foot wave at Nazaré, Portugal, in 2011.
Dollar was named winner in the Biggest Wave and Paddle categories of the 2012-13 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards competition.
“Is this really happening?” Dollar asked rhetorically after his XXL triumph. “Are we really paddling into waves bigger than what we used to tow?”
Dorian was the XXL’s Ride of the Year champion for a mammoth tube ride at Jaws.