Big wave surfer Sebastian Steudtner: record
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Sebastian Steudtner has achieved his goal. At the age of 16, he left Bavaria for Hawaii to learn to surf. Now, 21 years later, he has done what he always dreamed of doing. The 37-year-old surfed the biggest wave ever. Although it took a long time for the data to be recorded and analyzed, it’s now official: The monster wave that Steudtner rode on October 29, 2020 in the Portuguese fishing village of Nazaré was 86 feet high, or 26.21 meters.
Steudtner seems somewhat exotic among the world’s top surfers, as the big wave surfer scene has traditionally been dominated by American, Australian and Brazilian athletes. At the age of 18, the boy from Nuremberg made a decision in Hawaii that initially made people smile. He claimed he would one day ride the biggest wave of all time. Steudtner never lost sight of this goal in the following years, despite all the obstacles and setbacks he experienced.
To make a living, he spent five years pouring concrete in Hawaii. In Europe, he worked as a traveling speaker and nightclub bouncer before making his fortune in Nazaré in Portugal. Before that, his visa for Hawaii had not been extended, so he moved to Ireland – 50,000 euros in debt – to try his luck there. Then he moved to Nazaré and caught the biggest wave of the year.
Now his debts have been paid off and Steudtner has the support of leading sponsors such as Porsche, Siemens Healthineers and Schaeffler, three major German industrial companies. With their help, he wants to further advance his sport. At Porsche, he works on aerodynamic improvements in a wind tunnel. Siemens programs a “virtual twin” with data provided by a suit equipped with sensors. Schaeffler develops a special surface coating to increase board glide.
“All the work is aimed at making it possible to surf much bigger waves,” Steudtner explains. Nevertheless, he has no intention of chasing ever higher waves at any cost. “It’s all about my passion for sport,” he explains. “It’s important for me to enjoy what I do.”
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