(CNN) — Brave or reckless? A group of thrill-seeking surfers plunged into raging waters during one of the biggest storms to hit Europe in recent times — one of them thinks he might have broken the record for riding the biggest wave, while another is recovering in hospital after taking “the hardest beating by man or woman anywhere in the ocean.”
Praia do Norte, at the Portuguese town of Nazare, is renowned for its huge swells — and Monday brought more with the weather that caused havoc across the continent, killing at least 13 people.
Carlos Burle caught one of these, estimated to be around 100 feet high, not long after helping to haul his fellow Brazilian Maya Gabeira out of the pummeling surf after she was knocked unconscious.
Gabeira, one of the world’s leading female big-wave surfers, was taken to hospital and escaped with just a broken ankle, while Burle is hoping to have his feat ratified as a Guinness World Record.
“It was luck. We never know when we will be catching the wave,” the 45-year-old Burle told Surfer Today.
“I still hadn’t surfed any wave and everyone had already had their rides. Maya almost died. For me, it was a big adrenaline moment to get back there after what happened.”
Burle is hoping to surpass the 2011 record set by American Garrett McNamara, whose 78-foot wave ride was ratified by Guinness the following year.
McNamara, who also managed an unconfirmed effort estimated to be around 100 foot at Praia do Norte in January this year, was in the water Monday as part of the support crew for Burle, Gabeira and compatriots Pedro Scooby and Felipe Cesarano.
“It was definitely huge with the waves breaking right in front of the rocks,” McNamara wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday.
“Maya Gabeira is the toughest water woman I have ever witnessed. She also caught one of the biggest waves of the day. She took the hardest beating I have ever seen by man or woman anywhere in the ocean and made it close to the shore all on her own.
“What happened after was terrible. It just shows how strong she is and how hard she trained by how well she is doing after going through what happened to her!! Thankfully she will be home from the hospital today.”
McNamara said they had taken all possible safety precautions.
“On big days we have back up for the back up. 2 safety drivers in place. A team on the cliff with walkie talkies, a team on the beach with quads and life guard,” he wrote.
“What happen to Maya yesterday was extremely unfortunate and thanks to God and everyone on the beach, especially the Nazare lifeguard Nuno for bringing her back.
“After having such a close call yesterday it didn’t feel right to keep surfing when there were still surfers out there without back up safety so Andrew Cotton, Hugo Vau and I decided to drive 3 jet skis for safety until everyone went in in case there was another emergency.”
The surfers intend to stay at Nazare until early December in order to catch more monster waves, according to a report by the Portugal News.
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