Ground Breaking Distance Surfing World Record

Sunday, Jul 3rd

Pororoca surf pioneer, Serginho Laus, has officially broken the 10km to earn a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the Distance Surfing World Record - the first time the record has been beaten on a river other than the Severn. The Araguari river in Amapa State, Brazil, has shown potential as a record beating wave with numerous unofficial distances in excess of 35 minutes by Pororoca Surf Champion Adilton Mariano and Red Bull rider Picuruta Salazar in recent years. But it was Serginho, who on 24th June and in the presence of an official Guinness adjudicator set the new distance surfing world record with a ride of 33 minutes and 15 seconds covering a distance of 10.1 km. With the Araguari pororoca running smaller than hoped due to dry conditions, the team travelled out into the mouth of the mighty river where Serginho achieved his ground breaking ride on a section that had previously gone unridden.

Serginho Laus surfing the Mearim Pororoca during the International Pororoca meet. Copyright Bruno Boue. Serginho Laus surfing the Mearim Pororoca during the International Bore Riders meeting in March 2005 (Copyright Bruno Boué).

The Guinness World Record for distance surfing has had a long history on the Severn with the first unofficial mark set by Rod Sumpter in 1967 with an unadjudicated ride of 9.6 miles from Broadoak to Longney Crib. Then in 1970 the first official record of 3.2 miles was set by a team from Drive magazine. Throughout the 1970's surfers challenged this record to no avail, until in spring 1980 legendary Welsh surf guru, Pete Jones, and Severn Bore specialist, Stuart Matthews, both achieved a distance of 4.16km. Two years later, the British surf champion of the time, Colin Wilson, extended the record to 4.7km with his ingenious retractable fin and custom shaped river board.

Following this a new set of regulations were established with strict rules that the surfer must remain standing and not touch his board or water at any time during the attempt. Under this new format the first record was claimed by Nick Hart with a distance of 1.28km in 1984, before the sport became dominated by the local Gloucester men, Dave Lawson and Steve King. Dave first set a mark of 4 km in 1988 from Lower Rea to the Lower Parting which he later extended to 4.16km in 1995 for the popular children's TV show Record Breakers. Then in August 1996, Steve shattered the record with a ride of 8.86km, only for Dave to extend it to 9.12km the following month.

Despite unofficial distances in excess of 10km by both surfers, this record has remained the mark to beat for 9 years and it seems fitting that the record goes to one of the most influential surfers in the growing Pororoca scene, Sergio Laus. The achievement has opened up a new chapter in the history of distance surfing as a new friendly rivalry ensues between the new wave of Severn surfers, their Brazilian counterparts and the French Mascaret faithful. Cat-man-do Wright believes there is potential for distances of around 12km in the Severn estuary: under perfect conditions.

In response, Serginho believes the Araguari pororoca could feasibly run in excess of 60 minutes, making it truly the new playground for distance surfing…

Serginho Laus tandem surfing with former record holder Steve King on the Mearim Pororoca Distance surfing world record holder Serginho Laus (foreground) surfing tandem with former record holder Steve King during the international tidal bore meeting on the Mearim Pororoca in March 2005 (Copyright Sergio Laus).

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