Jeff Rowley: the ant and the giant

The Empire State Building is 448 metres high (1,470 ft), if you include the antenna spire. Now, imagine a wave that goes up to the 1,720ft (520 metres) and simply destroys all the trees high up in Lituya Bay, a fjord located on the coast of Alaska.

That day, on the 9th July 1958, scientists registered the biggest wave ever observed. It is considered a "splash wave". The natural phenomenon stripped the soil down to the bedrock around the entire bay. Two fishermen standing in a boat were killed and other boats were able to ride the waves.

Adam Gray, William A. Swanson and Howard G. Ulrich survived this mega tsunami that travelled at around 600 miles/hour. As you can see in the picture above, the splash wave destroyed forest along the shorelines as clearly recognizable in the light areas rimming the bay.

Big waves that were actually surfed are a parallel dossier. On the 28th July 1998, big rider Ken Bradshaw rode an 85-foot wave, at Outside Log Cabins reef, in Waimea Bay, Oahu's North Shore. It was unofficially seen as the biggest wave ever ridden, until Garrett McNamara caught the famous 30-metre wave at Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal, in November 2011.

Mike Parsons (2001, Cortez Bank), Miguel Del Toro (late summer 2007, Patagonia), Peter Mel, Flea, Dan Malloy, Garrett MacNamara, the Wormhoudt brothers and Grant Baker (4th December 2007, Mavericks), Mike Parsons (January 5th 2008, Cortez Bank), Shane Dorian and Mark Healey (7th December 2009, Waimea Bay) have been filmed and photographed surfing big waves.

The Guinness World Records registered Garrett McNamara's stunt as the official record. "The largest wave successfully surfed had a face estimated at 23.7 meters (78 feet) in height", writes the famous book. It is time to get the 100ft wave. Who will get it first?

Now, judge for yourself. Check the biggest waves ever surfed - tow and paddle in.
Also, discover the best big wave surfers of all time.