(CBS/AP) HONOLULU - A 44-year-old Hawaii pro surfer has been recognized by Guinness World Records for riding the tallest wave ever, by catching a 78-foot wave off the coast of Portugal.
The record-keeping agency said the November run by big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara beats a 2008 record by more than 1 foot.
McNamara, of Haleiwa on Oahu's North Shore, told The Associated Press that the ride of his life was a fluke.
He said he originally didn't want to attempt the waves that day after wiping out numerous times on even bigger swells in the same spot, above an undersea canyon known as one of the biggest wave-generators on the planet.
"I was really beat-up that morning," he said. "This day, I did not want to get out of bed."
He changed his mind at the urging of friends, once they got into the ocean and he helped others catch a few waves.
"Everything came together," McNamara said Thursday. "Everything felt right."
Video of the run shows a minuscule 5-foot-10-inch McNamara against a wall of water as he lets go of a tow rope and begins riding down the wave at Praia do Norte. He briefly disappears into the break about 10 seconds into the run, then speeds up and remerges from the wave's tube as the swell quickly dissipates.
"I knew it was big, but I didn't know how big," he said.
McNamara said he didn't care at first about whether the wave was a record, but was urged by the townspeople in Nazare, Portugal, to get some kind of confirmation. He said he sent the footage and pictures to surfing legend and Billabong judge Sean Collins, who guessed the wave was 85 to 90 feet tall. Collins died in December.
The official record comes after McNamara was awarded $15,000 for the ride at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards in California last week.