So Pitted: Brazilian Surfer Breaks Guinness World Record With 80 Foot Wave

On November 8th 2017, Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa faced a monster off the coast of Nazare, Portugal, and won. Over the weekend he was awarded for it at the 18th Annual Big Wave Awards where they confirmed he’d broken the Guinness World Record for largest wave ever successfully surfed. It was 80 feet high.

That’s an eight story building. That’s almost 11 Manute Bols and 15 Muggsy Bogues. For a bit of perspective, this is what it’s like looking down from 80 feet:

Koxa broke the previous record of 78 feet, held by American Garrett McNamara.

According to physicists, the pressure from a breaking wave can be between 250-6000 pounds per square foot depending on the variables:

The salinity of the water (the world’s average is of 3.5%); the height, thickness and width of the falling lip; the winds involved in the equation; traveling speed; etc. Although the human body will not literally “feel” those massive numbers, it will definitely feel something.

Surfers like Koxa are well aware those numbers can mean death or serious, debilitating injuries. In an interview with, he admits he almost fell, but used the advice from a dream to keep going:

“I had an amazing dream the night before. Where I was talking to myself, ‘You gotta go straight down. You gotta go straight down.’ I didn’t really know what it meant. But I figured somebody was talking to me. When I got my wave, I let go of the rope, I started to use my rail to angle towards the shoulder, but then realized, if I used my rail, I’d never get deep. And then I remembered: ‘go straight down.’ When I said it, I remembered my dream. I turned and I almost fell, but then I got my feet again and went super fast. I’ve never had a big wave like that where I didn’t use the rail at all. Just went straight down. It was amazing.”

Someone who wasn’t as lucky facing the waves of Nazere was Britain’s Andrew Cotton, who won the Wipeout of the Year Award. He wasn’t able to attend because he’s still dealing with the effects of a broken back from his fall (on the same day Koxa surfed the 80 footer), but it looks like he’s keeping a positive attitude and using his experience to advocate for spinal cord rehab research.

When I lived in Cali I used my deployment money to have a custom board made, even though I really sucked at surfing.


On my first time out on it I panicked going over a small swell. Pushing the board out ahead of me as I went over the lip, I impaled my stomach on one of the bottom fishtail edges. It actually went through my thick wetsuit and into my #FUPA, and I have a sizeable scar under my bellybutton to prove it.

wave sketch

Considering the panic I felt on my mini-wipeout, it’s safe to say Koxa was ‘homão da porra’ (rough translation: ballsy AF) to take this challenge on. Soooo pitted, brah.

The only way I’d even consider facing big waves is if I had a brand spankin’ new SAFTB float to catch them on. You can get yours here today! #shamelessplug

satfb float