Brazilian big wave surfer, Andrea Moller, made history by earning the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ Title for Biggest Paddle-In Wave at the 2019 WSL Big Wave Awards. The 42 foot wave that granted her this achievement was caught at Pe'ahi on January 16, 2016, during pristine El Niño conditions. We caught up with Moller at the Big Wave Awards to hear about her experience riding the record-breaking wave at Jaws.
You're now a world record holder.
It's a very unexpected feeling for me, I'm not a person who measures my waves or achievements. I go out there and do what my heart tells me to do. I don't count my points, it's each day, one day at a time. If it's the right day and the swell hits, I'm out there. Just being recognized is an unbelievable feeling; seeing the women being recognized is a historical one.
I've been surfing big waves for many years and it was always for my heart. I've always seen men competing and having recognition, now this day has come and I can't believe I'm finally here.
Congratulations! Walk us through the wave and that paddle in.
I remember it like it was yesterday. We had an El Nino year and it was swell after swell, perfect conditions after perfect conditions. There was no rest day. I work as a paramedic doing 48 hour shifts, and after every shift I got straight to the water because it was perfect. You couldn't miss it. We're talking 50 feet of glassy, epic conditions. It was 2016, the same year I won overall performance.
On this specific swell, waves in between the sets were so large that I thought, "are we really going to be able to paddle in?" I thought these were going to be the epic conditions that we could only tow-in surf. All of the sudden, surfers paddled out and you could see them all catching barrels.
One of my coaches told me "get out there now because you never know if the conditions are going to change." I just got on my board, paddled out to the line-up and waited for a wave to come to me. When It happened, I couldn't think but to go for it and see if I could make the wave. And here we are today.
Here's the wave - it's on the horizon, you turn and start paddling. What was that moment like?
On big days you have to be careful because when you paddle into a wave. There's no way back, if you're not going to make the wave, you're going to catch it on your head. When you commit, you look forward, you don't look back, you don't think twice, you go for it.
On that particular wave I had to paddle the hardest I could. My goal was to make the drop, make the face of the wave and not think twice. And that's how I did it. Paddling as hard as I could, putting my foot on the board, feeling it, and making it to the bottom. It was insane - it was by far the biggest wave I have ever caught and that's why we're here [laughs].
Does being a Guinness World Record holder carry any special significance to you?
Is that real am I in the Guinness Book? I think I need to see it and really register it. I'm honored to be a part of this history. I know there is a big generation coming after me that will be taking that record soon. So for me it's about enjoying the moment and setting a good example.
Any final words for the women who are coming up now?
The biggest thing I have to say for the next generation is to really do it for the right reasons. Follow your heart, be safe out there. Think twice, is your equipment right for the day, are you really prepared for the day? It's not about setting records, pictures, or sponsors - that's not going to take you very far. It's about being true to yourself, setting limits, pushing your limits, and getting ready for the biggest day. And when you're ready, the day will come.