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Portugal's navy honors Hawaii surfer for big wave ride

By Oskar Garcia

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:47 p.m. HST, Jul 31, 2013

Portugal's navy has honored Hawaii surfer Garrett McNamara for riding the gnarliest wave ever and highlighting the science that let him see it coming.

The navy awarded the big-wave surfer its Medalha Naval de Vasco da Gama in a ceremony this week in Lisbon.

The 45-year-old pro from Oahu's North Shore captured the world's attention in 2011 after catching a 78-foot wave at Portugal's Praia do Norte, near the town of Nazare.

It was determined to be a record by the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards and certified by Guinness World Records.

A commendation signed by the chief of Portuguese naval staff, Admiral Jose Carlos Torrado Saldanha Lopes, said McNamara worked with the navy's hydrography office to predict the giant waves.

McNamara said receiving the award was an emotional moment, reminding him of how much his life has changed since his family's economic struggles in Hawaii during his childhood.

"It was surreal, but it was real," he said.

McNamara turned heads again earlier this year — first in the surfing world then worldwide on Twitter — after a photo surfaced of him riding another massive swell at the same spot. The photo touched off rampant speculation that it might be a new record, though the wave was never formally measured and McNamara doesn't think it was a record-breaker.

Portugal's commendation spotlighted the talent of McNamara and "the scientific capabilities and skills of the Instituto Hidrografico, in Portugal and also worldwide." It was presented at a ceremony attended by diplomats from the United States and Norway along with local public officials from Nazare.

McNamara said he was grateful to see top uniformed Navy officers along with throngs of media.

"All of a sudden I'm in the room with all these people and I just felt like a dwarf," McNamara said. "I was like, whoa, this is overwhelming."

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dlum003 wrote:
for crying out loud
on July 31,2013 | 02:09PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Kudos bruddah, good job!
on July 31,2013 | 02:38PM
Mythman wrote:
And I'm sure, knowing Garrett, that he was thinking to himself "thank you Eddie", remembering when he was growing up hard scrabble along the North Shore that Eddie was over there at Waimea Bay riding the big waves even when nobody paid much attention as this is what a native Hawaiian surfer just did as part of his every day life.....
on July 31,2013 | 02:39PM
bigislandkurt wrote:
Pork and beans and gravy. Join the potogee Navy.
on July 31,2013 | 03:52PM
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