In the valley of the giants.
Imagine you are driving a car but with the aim of saving your own life. Because you are being chased: by a relentless avalanche, a moving mountain. While you are fleeing from this monster, at the same time you are trying to stay as close to it as possible so it does not overtake you and swallow you. This is how Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara describes the passion of his life: big wave surfing. A “giant wave” can be up to 40 metres high. These giants present surfers with completely different challenges than simple wave-riding. The reason is that they are very steep – and very, very fast.
If you want to master them, you need more than just stamina and physical fitness: you need the right attitude too. And above all: the right board.
The legend of Nazaré.
Garrett McNamara is a spiritual man with sparkling eyes that show the passion that drives him out on to the water. In surfing circles he is known simply as “G-Mac”. He holds the world record of 24 metres, the highest wave ever to have been surfed, a record which he set off the coast of Nazaré in November 2011. Since then, the fishing village has become one of the most famous surfing spots in the world. McNamara describes himself as a highly focussed perfectionist – but also as a person who, through his sport, has learned to take things as they come. Because big wave surfing demands one thing in particular: patience. Fitness, stamina and weight training go without saying. The perfect “ride” begins a long time ahead.
Garrett McNamara observes the winds and their direction while he waits for the right moment. The equipment has to be ready at all times.
The MBoard Project.
For McNamara, preparation is essential – and that starts with the right surfboard. Together with Mercedes-Benz he set off in search of the ideal material and the perfect weight distribution of the board. The boards, which were built in Portugal, are tailor-made to his weight and height. The aim was to build the fastest board he has ever surfed on. Up until now, he has reached a top speed of 62.4 km/h.
The MBoard Project brought together designers’ and engineers’ knowledge, and the surfing legend’s decades-long experience of giant waves. Garrett McNamara developed the surfboard he had always dreamed of.
Survival as a relaxation exercise.
Masters never fail – they just keep on learning. McNamara said that the experience of not mastering a wave is more exciting than simply gliding down one. “Such an underwater ride can be a very uplifting experience. The senses are all stronger when you are fighting for your life. Really, you do not “fight” to survive. Actually, you learn to relax in order to survive. You just go along with it and enjoy it.” Fear, he feels, is a feeling we choose when we are thinking about the future: “Prepare for the moment, stay in the moment and enjoy the moment – then you won’t feel fear.”
Humility knows no limits.
When asked where he sees his limits, he pondered: “There are no limits – but there are situations in which you feel OK. And situations where you don’t feel good. I personally love giant waves. I like being under water. The important thing is that the different elements are right: the right waves, the right wind, at the right time in the right place. That’s important. You have to be well-prepared and above all have the very best equipment, then there are no limits.”
When Garrett McNamara said that, it sounded almost humble. The man who claims to have a love affair with waves smiled. “I’ve surfed so many giant waves. I’m prepared. Whatever happens – I work on enjoying it.”