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Is Andrew Cotton’s wave at Nazaré the largest ever ridden?

Is Andrew Cotton's wave at Nazaré in Portugal the largest ever ridden? "Cottie" was towed into the wave by long-time Nazaré partner Garrett McNamara on Sunday. It was the only wave ridden on the day and might propel the U.K. surfer (and part time plumber) into the record books. GrindTV caught up with Cotton to talk through the wave and the wipeout that followed.

Tell us about the wave?
It was massive, wasn't it? It was really victory at sea conditions out there. I mean, you look at the pictures and the wave kinda looks clean, but it was actually really bumpy and horrible.

Talk us through the session itself.
It was really wild and wooly, but Garrett and I had a game plan where we decided to stick to the biggest waves that broke the furthest out. Back in the October swell we were going for the more inside ones that broke into the rocks, or the lefts that run down the beach. However, those waves are pretty dangerous for rescues as it is so chaotic inside. With the swell the way it was we decided to stick to the outside rights that broke more into the channel.

Did you catch many other waves?
No. It was a three-hour waiting game out there, as we were just trying to get the bigger ones. Garrett rode another one; it peaked up and then feathered, and then backed off, whereas mine broke.

Tell us about the wave itself.
Well, we saw it and Garrett said, "Do you want it?" And I was like, "Well, that looks pretty big." Out in the ocean though, it's hard to tell just how big the wave is going to be. In any case I wanted it, and then Garrett put me in the perfect spot.

Why was is the perfect spot?
We were talking about it before we went out. Surfing Nazaré that big, well it's not even really like surfing—it's a whole different kettle of fish really. You can't let go of the rope till you are halfway down the face, as the swells are just moving that fast. So Garrett dropped me in mid-face, going super fast and I was like, “F#*%ing hell, here we go.” I was going down it and then all of sudden I wasn't going down it (laughs). I couldn't reach the bottom. Even though I was hammering I just knew I was going to get mowed down.

Nazaré
No wonder Andrew couldn’t reach the bottom at Nazaré—check the size of this chunk of Atlantic.

Did you fall or did the foam catch you?
I hit a bit of chop and fell, but even as I fell the foam was right there and mowed me down. Either way, I was going down.

What was the wipeout like?
Patagonia had given me one of their inflatable vests, so I just pulled the chord straight away. I wanted out of there as quick as I could and didn't want to get pushed deep. So straight away I filled up like a beach balloon and pretty much came straight to the surface. The initial impact was heavy, but the actual wipeout wasn't that bad, considering the size of the wave.

And was that the end of the session?
No, we stayed out for a few hours, Garrett rode one wave, but it didn’t really break properly. Nothing else came through and it was bordering on being unsurfable, so you have to weigh up the risks. Then the wind came up and it was like, “Let’s get out of here. This is stupid.”

Was that biggest wave you have ridden out there?
Yes, that was the biggest wave I had surfed at Nazaré.

And do you think it was the biggest wave ever ridden?
Look, it just seems that every week it's reported that someone has ridden the biggest wave ever. It will probably happen again next week. I just ride the waves, and though sometimes you read the comments and have to laugh. I'll let the media and everyone else interested talk about all that.

Cottie is soon to release a web series based on his big-wave riding. We are pretty sure this session may make the cut.

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