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Monster ride: Surfer catches 'world's biggest wave'

By Frances Cha, CNN
January 30, 2013 -- Updated 0739 GMT (1539 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Garret McNamara's wave believed to be 100 feet high
  • Small Portuguese fishing village has some of the world's most dangerous surf
  • Giant swells generated by unique deep water canyons

(CNN) -- He is but a dot in the ocean, gathering speed and rapidly rising as a mammoth wall of water expands below and behind him.

Simultaneously fearsome and awesome, this may be the moment Hawaiian rider Garret McNamara on Monday broke his own record for the largest wave ever surfed.

Caught off the coast of the small fishing village of Nazaré, Portugal, the monster wave was reported to be more than 100 feet high, or 30.5 meters.

Anderson Cooper interviews McNamara

"It was just this endless drop and my feet were popping out of the straps," McNamara told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "It was like my whole body was shattering. It was really difficult."

If accurate, the wave towers over his 2011 surf of a 78-footer (24 meter) at the same location. Nazaré officials have requested an impartial verification of a possible new world record.

Thanks to one of the only deep water canyons in the world that connects to shore, Praia do Norte -- the north beach of Nazaré -- sees abnormally large waves.

McNamara: \
McNamara: "One of the hardest, longest drops."

A group of extreme surfers descended on the Portugal coast this past week, providing some amazing experiences for onshore observers and some very social media-friendly video and photos.

McNamara was first invited by the Nazaré Town Hall in 2010 as part of a three-year project to explore the local coast's unique geomorphic phenomenon and to bring more awareness to the area as a destination for big-wave enthusiasts.

Though onlookers were spellbound by McNamara's ride, the surfer said he didn't get that much of a rush.

"I don't know what's wrong with me. There's definitely something wrong," McNamara said in his interview with Cooper.

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