Laura Enever has rocketed to international fame after setting the new world record for the largest wave ever surfed paddle-in. Enever’s perfect wave was 13.3 meters high. Her incredible feat proves that women are able to compete and succeed in the most daring and dangerous of sports and that there is nothing they cannot do if given the chance.
Diana Mautner Markhof, 13 November 2023
Off Hawaii’s Oahu’s outer reef, on 22 January 2023, Australian pro surfer (professional surfer) Laura Enever set a new world record for the largest wave ever surfed paddle-in. The monster wave had a crest of 13.3 meters. What makes her feat so incredible is that she did not use any jet ski to pull her into the wave, but paddled into it herself. Moreover, Laura, who likes to be called Lauzy, waited for hours to catch her perfect wave. She was meticulous in choosing her wave, waiting for hours and letting a number of waves roll past her.
After waiting many months for the World Surf League (WSL) to officially measure the wave, her world record was confirmed on 9 November 2023. Her achievement has also been entered into the Guiness Book of World Records. The current male world record for paddle-in waves is held by Hawaii’s Aaron Gold and stands at 19.2 meters for a giant wave he caught off Maui in 2016.
If conditions are right, pro surfers sometime adopt the traditional approach to surfing and paddle into a wave. This method requires much experience and endurance. The fact that Enever was not towed into the wave but paddled into it is another incredibly athletic and brave achievement.
For Enever this life-changing event has brought not only fame, but has also shone a light on the skill and hard work it takes to master one of the most dangerous sports on the planet. In the pro surfing community, Big Wave surfers belong to the elite and not many women have mastered this extremely challenging and life-threatening sport. “Laura is fearless, committed, and a real inspiration … And I’m so proud to celebrate her” stated Jessi Miley-Dyer, WSL Chief of Sport. Enever has pushed the boundaries of Big Wave surfing and has proven that she is one of the most fearless women on our planet today.
Her passion for surfing runs in the Enever family of North Narrabeen, Australia. She started surfing with her brother Chris and her father when she was a child. Since the tender age of seven, Enever knew what she wanted to be when she grew up – a pro surfer. By age eleven she had launched her surfing career.
Now at 31, she has realized her life’s dream – her life’s wave: “I knew it was big when I paddled into it, and then when I took off, I looked down, and I knew it was definitely the biggest wave I’ve ever caught. … I knew it was the wave of my life, the whole way it all came together and the way I committed, backed myself, told myself to go, and trusted I could do it. The ride was such a breakthrough for me and a moment that will be special and monumental in my surf career. To get awarded this months later is really cool, I can’t believe it.”
She credited the brave female surfers who paved the way for her. And being brave is definitely a must for any Big Wave surfer. Her world record crowns an amazing surfing career which included being the 2008 ISA Junior World Champion and Triple Crown Rookie of the Year and the 2009 World Junior Champion. She was part of the WSL Championship Tour for seven years from 2011 to 2018, where she always scored top 10 rankings. She now competes in the WSL Big Wave events.
Enever’s record topped Brazilian-US surfer Andrea Moller’s previous record by one foot. A record which stood for over seven years.
In the 2021 movie Undone, Enever’s journey from childhood to Big Wave pro surfer is documented by Australian director Steve Wall. Wall is inspired to tell stories of powerful human feats and Laura Enever’s persistence, skill and bravery have pushed the boundaries of human achievement. The movie also documents her bright and naturally sunny personality.
Laura Enever is a role model for women’s sports in general and for all women is general. Her incredible feat proves that women are able to compete and succeed in the most daring and dangerous of sports and that there is nothing they cannot do if given the chance.