Australian surfer Laura Enever has set a world record for riding the largest wave ever paddled into by a woman.

The 31-year-old tamed the 43.6ft (13.3m) beast in January at a break nicknamed the Himalayas in Oahu, Hawaii.

It beat the previous record – which stood for seven years – by only a foot.

Paddling-in involves entering waves unassisted. It is distinct from a tow-in, in which surfers are pulled by jet-ski so they can access bigger waves.

Enever’s feat was certified by Guinness World Records on Thursday at a ceremony in Narrabeen, Sydney.

That suburb is where she grew up surfing and launched her career from at the age of 11. She won several junior competitions, then became a regular on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour for seven years – before switching to chasing big waves.

Enever has certainly seen her fair share of massive swells – but nothing compares to this one, she said.

“I knew it was big when I paddled into it and then when I took off I looked down and I knew it was definitely the biggest wave I’ve ever caught.

“I knew it was the wave of my life.”

Her ride was captured on video, which Guinness World Records used to help verify the wave’s height, along with detailed information about the site, the location of the videographers and location of the wave.

WSL chief of sport Jessi Miley-Dyer said it was an incredible achievement.

“Laura is fearless, committed, and a real inspiration, and I’m so proud to celebrate her,” she said.

Seven-time world surfing champion Layne Beachley also paid tribute to Enever, telling the Sydney Morning Herald she had been towed into a couple of 50ft waves, but had only ever paddled into a 15ft wave.

“Any athlete who can paddle into a wave of that magnitude is pretty extraordinary,” she said.

Hawaii’s Aaron Gold set the men’s record for paddle-in waves in 2016 with a 63ft wave, but the record for the biggest wave ever surfed is held by German Sebastian Steudtner – who was towed into an 86ft monster in 2020.


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