NORTH Devon surfer Andrew Cotton has told BBC broadcaster Jeremy Paxman that he had to “put fear in its place” while riding a monster 80ft wave in Portugal.
The 34-year-old said he feels truly lucky to have ridden a potentially world record-breaking wave during an interview with the broadcaster on BBC Newsnight last night.
Cotton, from Braunton, caught the monster wave off the north Portuguese coast at Nazaré on Monday morning.
It was estimated at about 80ft – rivalling the 78ft world record into which Cotton towed Garrett McNamara in November 2011.
Swell from the St Jude storm that has battered southern England and northern Europe started to build on Sunday but the real action happened on Monday morning as enormous waves rolled in.
For the last three years, McNamara, Cotton and the Zon North Canyon crew have been wintering in the Portuguese town, aiming to ride the world’s biggest waves.
For the first time a live web stream allowed viewers around the world to see one of the heaviest surf sessions ever.
On Tuesday Andrew wrote on his blog: “At first I wasn’t even sure about surfing, my mission was to put Garrett on the biggest wave possible.
“But some opportunities only come once and when I had a chance to grab the rope I wasn’t going to let it pass. I’ve been wanting this so much for years and I feel truly lucky to be in this situation.
“The waves were dangerous, giant, fast and incredibly hard to read, I didn’t want to make any mistakes or take any silly risks but I also wanted to try and get to the bottom of one of these waves and try to actually surf it.
“Thanks to Garrett for the tow and inspiration, and thank you Nazaré, you have the biggest, scariest, most beautiful waves I’ve ever seen.”
During his interview with Jeremy Paxman on last night’s programme, Cotton said it was the fastest he has ever gone on a surf board.
He said: “We use a really short, heavy surf boards, which isn’t like the standard surf board that you would ride back home in Devon.
“If I had to guess, I would say I was going at around 20mph.”
Paxman asked Cotton if he was scared while surfing the wave, to which he replied: “Fear definitely comes into it, but you have to put the fear in its place.”
Experts will now view video footage of the wave to decide if Andrew will make it into the record books.
One surfer, Brazilian Maya Gabeira, was pulled unconscious from the shore-break following a heavy wipeout and was resuscitated on the beach before being whisked to hospital where she is recovering.
“She’s lucky she’s alive,” said Cotton. “That was definitely the biggest surf I’ve ever seen – tricky, challenging and very dangerous.”