44-year-old surfer rides tallest wave ever

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44-year-old surfer rides tallest wave ever

From Comcast SportsNet

HONOLULU (AP) Dude, that was the gnarliest wave ever. Guinness World Records says so.

The record-keeping agency is acknowledging a 44-year-old Hawaii pro surfer for catching a 78-foot wave off the coast of Portugal, saying the November run beats a 2008 record by more than 1 foot.

Big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara of Haleiwa, on Oahu's North Shore, told The Associated Press that the ride of his life was a fluke.

He said he originally didn't want to attempt the waves that day after wiping out numerous times on even bigger swells in the same spot, above an undersea canyon known as one of the biggest wave-generators on the planet.

''I was really beat-up that morning,'' he said. ''This day, I did not want to get out of bed.''

He changed his mind at the urging of friends, once they got into the ocean and he helped others catch a few waves.

''Everything came together,'' McNamara said Thursday. ''Everything felt right.''

Video of the run shows a minuscule 5-foot-10-inch McNamara against a wall of water as he lets go of a tow rope and begins riding down the wave at Praia do Norte. He briefly disappears into the break about 10 seconds into the run, then speeds up and remerges from the wave's tube as the swell quickly dissipates.

''I knew it was big, but I didn't know how big,'' he said.

McNamara said he didn't care at first about whether the wave was a record, but was urged by the townspeople in Nazare, Portugal, to get some kind of confirmation. He said he sent the footage and pictures to surfing legend and Billabong judge Sean Collins, who guessed the wave was 85 to 90 feet tall. Collins died in December.

The official record comes after McNamara was awarded 15,000 for the ride at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards in California last week.

Judges for the awards, considered the official arbiters of big-wave surfing, pored over footage and high-resolution still images from several angles to calculate a more accurate estimate, event director Bill Sharp told the AP.

They used McNamara's height in a crouch and the length of his shin bone to help compare it to the wave's top and bottom, Sharp said.

''You can't deny how big it was for that moment,'' Sharp said.

Sharp said surfers don't often get a chance to catch waves so big. He put the achievement on par with other infrequent athletic feats like four home runs in a game - which Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton achieved this week - or a perfect game.

''But add to that the fact that the stadium could collapse on you at any second,'' he said.

McNamara, who began surfing at age 11 and went pro at 17, said the achievement became more important to him when he realized it could help him urge more people to follow their passions.

''The world would be a much better place if everyone was doing what they wanted to do,'' he said.

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The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 25 of 27 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.