Sebastian Steudtner sets Guinness World Record in Nazaré

May 24, 2022 | Surfing
Sebastian Steudtner: riding a 86-foot wave in Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal | Photo: Steudtner Archive

Sebastian Steudtner broke the Guinness World Record for the world's largest wave surfed (unlimited).

On October 29, 2020, the German surfer rode an 86-foot wave (26.21 meters) at Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal.

According to the measurements made by the World Surf League (WSL), Steudtner improved Rodrigo Koxa's previous world record by six feet (1.83 meters) from trough to crest.

"It was very intense. It was the most intense I've ever felt here. There was a lot of energy in the ocean, and it was a very special day for me," explained the Central European surfer.

"We train all year long to be ready for one, two, or three days per season. So, the anticipation and all the thoughts that go into doing it converge into that moment, and then it's like a release."

On November 8, 2017, the Brazilian had set a new big wave surfing mark at 80 feet (24.38 meters). His achievement remained untouched for nearly five years.

Praia do Norte gets its fifth Guinness World Record for the largest surfing waves after Garrett McNamara (2011), Rodrigo Koxa (2017), and Maya Gabeira (2018 and 2020).

Nazaré is also home to the largest kitesurfing wave of all time, a stunt performed by Nuno "Stru" Figueiredo on November 8, 2017.

The Portuguese big wave surfing arena is indisputably the ultimate stage for the world's giant waves.

Sebastian Steudtner: a big wave surfer from Germany | Photo: Steudtner

An Exceptional and Epic Day

Steudtner set a new Guinness World Record during 2020's infamous Hurricane Epsilon under exceptional - and rare - ocean and weather conditions.

The German surfer was towed into the record-breaking wave by Alemão de Maresias.

The experienced waterman put Steudtner in the perfect spot to ride the 25-second golden wave.

"It was massive and fast, and I felt like it was one of the biggest waves I have ever surfed," Sebastian Steudtner said at the time.

The world record wave was scrutinized using video frames and then geometrically corrected based on the camera's position and its angle.

Several variables come into play when judging a surfing world record.

The quality of the footage, the atmospheric conditions, and the distance between the photographer/videographer and the wave are some of them.

But the formula also takes into consideration the dimensions of the jet ski, the height of the surfer, and the image conversion from pixels to feet/meters.

WSL's official measurement officers are still analyzing and evaluating other waves from the same session.

The Quest Continues

The German received the Guinness World Record certificate from the hand of Walter Chicharro, the mayor of Nazaré.

"For us, it's a huge satisfaction, and it's starting to be normal for records to be broken in Nazaré," underlined Chicharro.

"This is the sixth record broken here. It's fabulous for Nazaré and for Portugal."

"In the last decade, the waves of Praia do Norte have provided a great service to the country. Nazaré is Portugal's second-biggest brand, and it is only dethroned by Cristiano Ronaldo."

The surfer was proud of his accolade and stressed the importance of motivation.

"I am very proud of it. Anything you really want to do in life is possible," stated Steudtner.

"I was not born in a country with waves and did not have the opportunity, as a child, to travel to countries and surf. But I had the motivation to move to the other side of the planet and dedicate myself to surfing."

Walter Chicharro and Sebastian Steudtner: the mayor of Nazaré and the Guinness World Record surfer | Photo: Mestre/WSL

From Nuremberg to Maui to Nazaré

Sebastian Steudtner was born on May 4, 1985 in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany.

He was born to a German father and an Austrian mother and grew up in Nuremberg. His first contact with surfing was in France at the age of 9.

Steudtner's first watercraft was a bodyboard.

In 2001, at 16 years of age, he moved to Maui, Hawaii, where he kicked off his career as a windsurfer.

Steudtner earned his living in the following years as a construction worker to support his passion.

While in the Hawaiian islands, he met the family of Nelson Armitage Sr., who introduced him to big wave surfing.

The new Guinness World Record holder currently lives in the Portuguese fishing village.

"Surfing its waves, being part of Nazaré becoming what it is now - I've had a lot of beautiful moments here, a lot of dramatic moments as well. Yes, it's a place very close to my heart."

"This is not the end. This is not something; this is not something that I was trying to achieve because I was always focused on my performance, on becoming the best athlete I can be, and I'll continue doing that."

"I will continue in the race. If we work hard and are dedicated to what they do, all dreams are possible".