Maui man confirmed as record holder: 72 foot wave at Peʻahi “Jaws” is the largest wave ever kitesurfed
February 7, 2024, 8:56 AM HST
* Updated February 7, 9:15 AM
Guinness has confirmed that Maui kitesurfer, Patri McLaughlin has broken the world record for the largest wave ever kitesurfed.
The feat was accomplished last year on Jan. 22, 2023 at the famed Peʻahi “Jaws” surf break, on a wave that was measured at 72 feet 4 inches (22.5 M). The previous record was set in Portugal in 2018 for a 62 foot wave.
The International Kitesurfing Association officially measured and certified the wave, and Guinness approved the new record on Jan. 22, 2024, a year to the day after McLaughlin conquered the wave.
“It’s a funny feeling having the record certified. The wave is getting way more attention now than when it actually happened,” the 34-year-old McLaughlin told Maui Now. “I caught the wave a year ago so it’s strange getting the recognition for it now. It’s awesome though and I’m glad I could bring this record back home to Maui.”
McLaughlin is a 30 year resident of Maui. His family moved to Hawaiʻi when he was 1, and then moved to Maui when he was 4. He grew up in Haʻikū and went to Haʻikū Elementary as a child. His professional kitesurfing career has garnered him a sponsorship from Duotone.
McLaughlin described the conditions as “the biggest swell he had seen” since he started kiting and surfing Peʻahi 14 years ago.
When asked what it felt like to ride the mountainous wave, McLaughlin told Maui Now: “It’s similar to riding any wave in the sense that it takes complete focus. There are no distractions in your mind. ‘Jaws’ is just like that, only the consequences are a little higher. That wave in particular didn’t feel any different. I actually didn’t realize how big it was until after the day was over and I saw some photos. I knew it was a big one but I didn’t know how big.”
About four weeks before the swell, McLaughlin said he ruptured his appendix and had emergency surgery in Canada.
“I spent two nights in the hospital and I was supposed to take it easy. When that swell popped up it was such a rare swell that I couldn’t miss it. There’s a good chance that if I fell on a wave like that while recovering from a major operation I could’ve been in serious trouble,” he shared in a news release.
The record wave was caught using a custom big wave surfboard with a 6 either Neo kite.
For more on McLaughlin, visit @patri_mclaughlin.