Hawaiian man conquers largest wave kitesurfed that’s taller than the White House – Guinness World Records

Patri McLaughlin is making a splash with his newfound record title. 

On 22 January 2023, the Haiku, Hawaii, USA, native kitesurfed into a massive wave in Pe’ahi (Jaws) Maui measuring 22.1 m (72 ft 4 in), breaking the record for the largest wave kitesurfed (male)

That’s taller than the White House, which measures 70 ft to the top of its roof.

Kitesurfing is a wind-powered surface water sport that uses a kite and a board to move across the water.

Although there are many different disciplines in kitesurfing, Patri has always focused on riding on a surfboard and using the power of the kite to pull him into waves.

Patri’s love for kitesurfing began when he was very young. 

As a child, Patri was obsessed with snowboarding.

Having grown up in Hawaii, he frequently asked his mom if they could go on a ski trip. 

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“She was smart and said, ‘Let’s spend the same money that a ski trip would cost and get you into a sport you can do at home’,” said Patri. 

In 2002 when I was 12 years old, I took my first lesson.

Patri says kitesurfing quickly became a passion and in 2011, he began a partnership with the company Duotone and started competing in the world tour.

Patri has always pursued big waves and has been kiting the big wave spot on Maui Jaws for over a decade. 

“This particular swell was the biggest swell I’ve ever seen,” said Patri. 

“I rode out there all day and this was the last wave I caught.” 

When he kicked out into the channel, Patri noticed everyone screaming and saying it was the biggest wave of the day. 

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When Patri saw the photo of the wave, he knew it was also the biggest wave ever kited and decided to apply for a Guinness World Records title.

Patri says he had major surgery four weeks before the day he broke the record and technically wasn’t supposed to be out on the water. 

“There are offshore buoys that measure swell to the north of the Hawaiian Islands, and I’ve monitored them for years,” said Patri. 

“They read the swell roughly 12 hours before it hits Hawaii.” 

The night before, they were reading numbers bigger than anything Patri had ever seen. 

He told himself he’d just go out on the jet ski and look at them. 

When he and his partner Jesse Richman got out there, they tried to anchor their ski and Patri froze as he watched such massive waves hit the reef. 

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“The wave was so big and scary,” he said. 

There was no way I was going to miss this session. My surgery would be fine as long as I didn’t fall.

Patri says having the opportunity to break the record was a surprise and he didn’t train any extra since it wasn’t something he intended to do. 

However, as a big wave athlete, he regularly goes to the gym and eats healthy foods. 

“The most important part about riding big waves is the mental preparation,” said Patri. 

“You need to trust your skills completely. Any doubt or hesitation can be deadly.”

Throughout the years, Patri has had multiple injuries, with the worst being when he cut off the tip of his pinkie finger with the kite line. 

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He has also been knocked out a couple of times, broken his nose, and has also washed out to sea.

Despite the injuries, Patri enjoys kitesurfing big waves and says his favourite thing to do is to get barrelled. 

“That’s when the wave breaks on a very shallow spot and makes a funnel of water that you can ride through,” he said. 

“You’re completely surrounded by this violent force, but you can stand in it and ride through it unscathed. For me, that’s the best feeling in the world.”

Patri says the record-breaking wave was extra special because it was the last wave of a very memorable season. 

“I caught a bunch of very large waves and just as the wind was dying out, I caught that record wave,” he says. 

“After that wave came through, I couldn’t kite anymore because the wind died and got too light to ride.” 

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Patri says Brad Price, who is head judge of the PKRA and KSP World Tours kitesurfing events, has been monumental in his kitesurfing hobby. 

“He got me into tow surfing when I was 17 and he’s the first person that I ever went to Jaws with,” he said. 

I really respect the people who get out there and charge for themselves, and I’m forever grateful to Brad for taking me under his wing and teaching me how to handle big surf.

Patri says his friends and family are even happier about his new record than he is. 

He says his family isn’t into water sports and sees his new record as a massive accomplishment. 

Next, Patri would like to do some forecast trips to different waves when the swell is really large. 

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“Large waves are rare, and they only occur when there is a large storm on the ocean that generates massive waves,” he said.

“I would love to have more of a budget to chase big waves around the world and kite them.”

Although he never tried to break a record, he would also like to catch an even bigger wave and break his own record.

Patri urges those interested in kite surfing to take some lessons from an experienced instructor and stick with it until they learn. 

“The learning process is pretty frustrating,” he says. 

“But when you can skip across the water powered by the wind, there is absolutely nothing like it.” 

Patri loves the feeling kitesurfing gives him and is proud to have broken a Guinness World Records title. 

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“It feels like the pinnacle of my kitesurfing career,” he said. 

I’ve dedicated my life to this sport and to catch the biggest wave ever is an amazing feeling.

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