Praia do Norte, Nazaré: on February 25, 2022, the beach break produces 100-foot plus waves | Photo: Estrelinha/Praia do Norte

He said it was the biggest wave of his life, but Mason Barnes could've ridden the largest wall of water of all time at Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal.

Meet one of the world's less orthodox surfers. Mason Barnes doesn't surf - or looks - like the average big wave rider.

Despite participating in surfing's first-ever reality show, the young rider from Wilmington, North Carolina, is far from the mainstream stereotype of a professional surfer.

Inspired and supported by veterans like Garrett McNamara and Grant "Twiggy" Baker, Barnes discreetly cut his teeth in Nazaré.

In 2020, he got the most out of Hurricane Epsilon, an unprecedented XXL swell generated in the North Atlantic.

Fast forward two years, and the East Coast athlete is on the verge of making history. Why? His late February epic session at Praia do Norte ignited social media.

"It's the biggest wave of all time," and "It surely is the first 100-foot wave ever ridden" are some of the thoughts shared after his viral clip descending the liquid mountains hit the internet.

"It was the biggest left of my life. It was a dangerous, scary day, but we made it happen. I have to thank Pierre and Clément for the tow and safety," expressed Barnes.

"Nazaré is making my dreams come true. A lot of work went into finding this wave. Finding two guys to trust my life with, a spotter, two jet skis, two sleds, two ropes, and three radios took days of reaching out to everyone I know."

"These waves take a team, and I'm forever grateful to have the right people in my corner. So next time, I'm pulling in!"

Mason Barnes: Is this the biggest wave ever ridden? | Photo: Barnes Archive

100 Feet: The Never-Ending Quest

The quest to find and surf the 100-foot wave is on.

On October 29, 2020, Portuguese surfer António Laureano claimed to have ridden the biggest wave ever at the infamous European beach break.

The first measurement made by the University of Lisbon's Faculty of Human Kinetics (FMHUL) led to a 101.4-foot (30.9 meters) wave.

However, the World Surf League (WSL) did not validate the ride.

To be more precise, the professional surfing circuit never quite officially addressed or mentioned Laureano's feat.

Measuring big is not exact, even though it could involve scientific methods and formulas - it's a subjective call.

WSL has its own modus operandi for analyzing the size of the waves ridden each season and works with the Guinness World Records (GWR) to declare whether history has been made.

Mason Barnes' humungous Praia do Norte wave could easily exceed 100 feet by a comfortable margin, considering that the North Carolina surfer is 6'2" tall.

But, more important than the size of the wave is the quality of the performance.

Barnes was towed into the sweet spot by Pierre Caley and then found the perfect surf line on his way to an unprecedented, flawlessly ridden wave.

Nazaré's Praia do Norte is home to three world records - largest wave ever ridden, biggest wave ever surfed by a woman, and largest kitesurfing wave of all time.

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