Her friends and family think she’s a “bit crazy” but Laura Enever has surfed her way into the record books by taking on a massive four-storey wave in Hawaii.
The Sydneysider tackled a 13.3 metre monster on Oahu’s North Shore which eclipsed the previous biggest wave ever paddled into by a woman – a 12.8m mark set by Brazilian Andrea Moller in Maui in 2016.
Enever surfed the wave back in January but was officially recognised by the Guiness Book of Records in Sydney and the World Surf League on Wednesday.
“I knew it was big when I was paddling into it but then I looked down the face and was like ‘It’s a long way down’ … I knew it was the biggest wave I’d ever been on,” said Enever, who was a top-10 surfer for seven years on the world tour before she quit in 2018 to chase big waves.
“I got to the bottom and the wave absolutely exploded but I was so stoked, there’s just no feeling like it.”
The 31-year-old was swamped by larger ones behind it and tried not to panic.
“I came up from that wave and there was a huge, huge wave behind that took out the whole line-up, and I just saw boards flying everywhere,” she said.
“I had to really go back to my training and just had to stay super calm.”
It wasn’t until days later when a photographer messaged her with a picture of her ride that she realised it might be a world record.
“It was amazing because I’d come to terms with it just being a moment I’d had and even if there wasn’t any photos or records of it then I was happy with that,” she said.
“When I showed my family – I’d already told them about the wave – but when I showed them they were half mad and half proud. They were like, ‘Oh my goodness, you didn’t tell us it was that big.”
Enever, who works as a commentator and host on the WSL broadcast, said the transition into big-wave surfing was easy with one of her first forays in Hawaii ending with a serious knee injury.
She said those close to her questioned her decision to walk away from her professional career.
“I left competing for this love of big-wave surfing and a lot of my family and friends thought I was a bit crazy, as I’d worked my whole life to be on the world tour and I gave it up for this urge to surf big waves,” Enever said.
“I got injured at Jaws in my first time ever out there, and that sent me home and I was injured for about six months.
“In that time I think everyone thought I was going to forget about big-wave surfing and go back to the tour but all I could think about is getting back to big-wave surfing and attacking that.
“There was a lot of people who said I wasn’t strong enough or big enough and I was maybe going to get hurt again … to be able to come back and be who I am and show I’m capable is what I’m most proud of.”