The wave that surfer Sebastian Steudtner rode in October 2020 has been confirmed as the beast it appeared to be. Guinness World Records on Tuesday announced the 36-year-old German did indeed break the record for riding the largest wave when he rode an 86-footer off Portugal. The Washington Post reports the World Surf League, a group of scientists, and Guinness World Records needed 18 months to verify the feat. One challenge is having a reliable height of another object in the frame of a photograph or video to compare the wave's height to—but there typically aren't many objects present beyond the surfer, or can be slightly bent.
What was ultimately used in this case as the "ruler" was Steudtner's lower leg, from his heel to his kneecap, since that portion isn't bendable. The wave was caught off Praia do Norte, Nazare, and it nabbed Steudtner his third World Surf League Biggest Wave Award, reports UPI. His wave crushes the previous record, an 80-footer surfed in the same spot in 2017 by Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa. Steudtner expressed his joy at a Tuesday ceremony: "I have achieved everything there is in my sport. It has been a crazy journey to get here and the record is much more than just a number."
Guinness quoted comments Steudtner previously made about that wave: "It's also the fastest I ever felt going on a surfboard. I had tears coming out of my eyes because of the wind, my face was melting. It was crazy. I didn't imagine that could happen in surfing until that day." He had this to say to the BBC: "There's no car, there's no airplane, there's nothing I have experienced can match that power." Guinness notes Steudtner's training partner is Brazil's Maya Gabeira, who is the female record-holder for the 73.5-foot wave she surfed at the same spot earlier in 2020. (Read more surfing stories.)