Biggest wave ever ridden or media hype?

Carlos Burle on what is supposedly the biggest wave ever ridden at Nazare, Portugal. Photo by Getty Images
Carlos Burle on what is supposedly the biggest wave ever ridden at Nazare, Portugal. Photo by Getty Images

Words by Gero Lilleike

There is a debate raging on in the surfing world about whether Carlos Burle managed to ride the biggest wave in history on Monday 28 October 2013 at Nazaré in Portugal. Various media sources imply that the wave was in the 100ft range or in excess thereof, which would certainly be a monumental feat for surfing, if it’s true that is…

A few months back I wrote about Garret McNamara’s record wave which he also rode at Nazaré and I questioned whether that wave was indeed the biggest wave ever ridden, and so forgive me, I have to question Burle’s wave, too. That said, I have tons of respect for big wave surfers and the waves they ride and I take nothing away from them, in fact, I applaud them. But take a closer look at these two pictures, which is bigger? It’s really difficult to tell.

Garrett McNamara rides the big one in Nazare, Portugal. Photo by Tó Mané
Garrett McNamara rides the big one in Nazare, Portugal. Photo by Tó Mané

However, like millions of people across the globe, I watched the footage, I read the articles, but somehow I remain skeptical. Maybe the footage is poor or the pictures are misleading, or both, but in my mind that wave was not in the 100ft range, but it was big for sure. But therein lies the problem. My perception could be horribly wrong and will probably differ from everyone else’s, but consider this though, someone who has never set foot in the ocean and with very little knowledge and experience of waves will probably look at that footage and be in complete awe at what they are seeing and quickly be convinced that that is indeed a 100ft monster bearing down on Carlos Burle. It therefore becomes easy to sensationalise the size of the wave, don’t you think?

What is interesting though is that throughout the coverage of this event, all kinds of figures have been thrown around,  ranging between 70 and 100ft+ and the truth of the matter is that nobody knows for sure, and how will it be verified anyway? For all we know it was a 50ft wave. Look, there is no denying the fact that the big-wave surfers who were out there were indeed surfing big waves, there’s no questioning that, but for the media to insinuate that a 100ft wave was surfed is shooting the piss a bit far, I think.

Big wave surfing extraordinaire, Laird Hamilton, has his doubts, too. For Laird, claiming the credit for riding the biggest wave means that the surfer needs to complete the ride, which in his eyes Burle failed to do after getting eaten by whitewater. In an interview with CNN, Laird gives his opinion on Carlos Burle’s ride, “In the school I grew up in, unless you complete the ride, it’s really, you know, a non-factor, and as every big wave rider knows, it’s all about finishing the ride, and I think that even Carlos would tell you that unless you finish the ride, you didn’t really make the ride but otherwise it was a great attempt”. Following Laird’s interview with CNN, Burle responded by saying that Hamilton was “spoiled” and that he “never had any support from him”. Concerning the ride though, Burle commented that “I had already ridden through the bottom of the wave. He [Laird Hamilton] is right to a certain point. It would be better if I’d kicked out through the channel, but there have been approved waves with the surfer falling in the whitewater”.

Laird Hamilton riding the 'Wave of the Millenium' in 2000. Photo by Tim McKenna
Laird Hamilton riding the ‘Wave of the Millenium’ in 2000. Photo by Tim McKenna

To add another spin to the tale,  before Carlos Burle rode this so-called record breaking wave, he came to the rescue of female big wave surfer Maya Gabeira who wiped out while surfing a big wave and narrowly escaped drowning. Burle managed to get Gabeira to the safety of the beach where she lay unconscious with a broken ankle until she was resuscitated and taken to hospital for treatment. From the outside or from a readers perspective it seems that the media is latching onto this wonderful story of courage and bravery and riding it all the way in to the beach, creating dramatic sensational hype in its wake. That’s just my opinion though.

Whether all of this is just trivial media hype or whether Carlos Burle rode the biggest wave in the history of surfing is all a matter of opinion, but the fact remains, the size of that wave is a mystery, for now at least. Opinions aside, Burle deserves credit for saving Gabeira and still getting out there and catching the wave of the day, well done Burle.

How big do you think that wave is? Share your comments below.

What are we doing to our planet?

A barrel not to be proud of. Photo: Zak Noyle
A barrel not to be proud of. Photo: Zak Noyle

Words by Gero Lilleike

Screwing it up, definitely. There are few things that eek me out as much as seeing images like this coming to the fore. To be honest, I have visualised this image before in my mind and it was only a matter of time before it surfaced for real and guess what, I’m disappointed. This particular image was taken in Indonesia by photographer Zak Noyle on a trip to Java, the full article can be found here.

The sad reality is that this is not only an issue in Indonesia, but in oceans all across the world. Pollution is wreaking havoc to our oceans and its wildlife , yet the majority of the world’s population is oblivious to the fact. For many, this is either old news, or it’s not news at all and life goes on as usual with very little change happening. Who’s to blame? Everyone is to blame. Unfortunately we live in a world ruled by financial gain and greed and the effects thereof are left for nature to deal with, while us humans, the cause of the problem, turn a blind eye even though we lose as a result. It runs much deeper than that though for people know not what they do. Educational and cultural barriers stand tall against the plight of our oceans. Pollution is only one problem facing our oceans but the biggest problem is people. As long as people rape and pillage our seas, the worse off people will be. This affects everyone living on this planet today, no exclusions. Our oceans are screaming at us but its calls go unheard while the fires of industry burn. The power of change lies with us and with us only. There is no way out, this earth will have the last word.

Have something you want to share? Be my guest.

The State of South African Politics, ‘The New Frontier’.

Johannesburg "The Next Frontier"

Every South African and many people around the world, regardless of color, are aware of South Africa’s sorded history regarding race and politics. The word ‘Apartheid’ or “Seperateness” is inextricably bound to South African culture. The word itself need not be spoken today, but can rather be seen on every South African street, in every South African dorpie, town or city. The word itself lives deep in the tearful eyes of every South African walking on this beautiful land.

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. The Apartheid Government clearly neglected this, hands down.

In the name of a living legend, Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom can be seen as the the embodiment of freedom itself, a symbol of freedom, living proof that freedom, through love for our fellow brothers and sisters, is indeed possible. Madiba’s message was as clear as day, but where has our ‘Rainbow Nation’ gone wrong?

Here we are, together, with 17 long years of ‘democracy’ behind us. Have we made progress? Definately. Are we free? No. Will we ever be free? It depends. If we were to open our eyes and look around, we will see many truths that we may prefer to deny. I look around and see millions of South Africans living in poverty, in need of food,water and shelter. I look into the eyes of our youth and see the hunger to learn and play freely without fear. I see HIV/AIDS .  I see hungry people.  I see immense potential, but I also see lying, greedy and corrupt leaders who could care less for their fellow brothers or sisters but who only care for themselves. Are we still living in Apartheid? Most likely, yes.  What can the people do? Everything.

With the municipal elections around the corner, this is our chance to call for change, for the sake of every loving South African alive today. Lets direct our future. Lets get this right. The time is now. South Africa, I still love you.

South Africa I Still Love You

South Africa, I still Love You

Written by Gero Lilleike

People fascinate me. I go watch a movie at a friend’s house and I’m not there for even five minutes and some junky is outside in the street trying to break into my car. There is no radio in my car, nothing, because it was stolen a few weeks ago, ok.  “Sorry, the other guys got here before you my brother” is what I thought to myself.

The gear lock was on as was the steering lock and the anti-hijack would have kicked in anyway. This thief was going nowhere quickly, thankfully. The street guard managed to chase the thieves away and they disappeared into the Jozi night, as they always do. The bright chaps managed to unlock my door but broke the lock so I couldn’t lock my car.

I then thought. Well, I guess I have to get that fixed pretty soon.  It’s that, or I could make my car a home for homeless people instead. The next morning I shoot off to my trusty mechanic and he sorts it out no problem. I pay him, done.

As I step out the office I notice that my car has been washed. I only realised a second later that an elderly Madala was standing not too far away. I greet him and ask him if he washed my car. He responds, “Yes sir, I wash your car.” I thanked him and gave him a note for his kindness. He took his hat off in delight and bowed to the side and then said “thank you sir, wherever you get this money, I hope you get more”.  I replied and said “I hope the same for you my brother”.  South Africa, I still love you.