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Surfing's New World-Record Wave

Shawn Dollar’s December ride at Cortes Bank a new paddle-in record

Garrett McNamara may have withdrawn his so-called 100-foot wave from consideration, but this year’s big wave surfing awards still featured a world record.

At the Billabong XXL Awards this weekend it was announced that surfer Shawn Dollar set a world record for the largest wave ever paddled into—a 61-foot beast that hit Cortes Bank, California, on December 21, 2012.

While it doesn’t quite have the ring of “one-hundred feet,” consider this: the veteran Santa Cruz-based surfer used his own human muscle to paddle into this six-story giant. McNamara, by comparison, was towed into his wave by jet-ski.

Dollar, 32, reclaimed the paddle-in mark from rival big wave rider Shane Dorian after the two had spent the last few years trading records. Dollar went for Guinness with a 55-foot wave at Mavericks in 2010, only to have Dorian snatch his record in 2011 with a 58-footer at Hawaii’s Jaws.

And although Dollar’s ride earned him two awards with a combined haul of $35,000 (big money in the surfing world), Dorian took the day’s top honors with a Ride of the Year Award for an October bomb at Jaws.

Meanwhile, Greg Long, who almost drowned during Dollar’s record-setting session at Cortes Bank, took home the Men’s Performance Award. “I guess that's what you get when you almost die,” he deadpanned to ESPN.

UPDATE: An expert judging panel at the Billabong XXL Awards determined the height of 61 feet and submitted the record to Guinness World Records, according to the awards' event director Bill Sharp. Guinness has been accepting their measurements since 1998, he said.

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