In Peru, surfing the world's longest wave

Gino "Chato" Guillen surfing Chicama, on Peru's northern Pacific coast, earlier this month. He caught about the first 10 percent of what's known as the world's longest wave.
Jesus Florian Castillo

CHICAMA, Peru — The cold Pacific waters massage my dusty feet as I survey the perfectly peeling break just 60 feet in front of me.

After walking nearly a mile barefoot over a baking, rocky desert, the sensory release — and relief — coming from my suffering soles is extreme.

Surfers are a hardy bunch and will put up with all kinds of suffering to catch a wave or two. But it’s not usually like this. 

For most, wipeouts, sunburn, sharp coral, and even the risk of a hungry shark mistaking them for a juicy seal, are all taken as given. 

Then there’s the paddling. That’s how surfers reach the break, lying face down on their boards, moving through the water front-crawl style.

It’s exhausting, slow work. Along with leaden arms, an aching back and a crick in your neck, you also have to avoid having your board slammed into your face by walls of seawater that pack more horsepower than an NFL lineman.

And all that for what amounts to a few fleeting seconds of the undeniably thrilling sensation of harnessing the ocean’s power and riding a wave. Even at some of the world’s best-known breaks, a ride can last under 10 seconds.

But not at Chicama. This remote, windswept break off Peru’s arid northern shore is thought to be the world’s longest wave. No one’s really sure, but the consensus among surfers is that its mile-long left is the record-holder. Check out what has to say. Or’s take.

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