Imagine surfing a wave as tall as an apartment building. Last fall, Carlos Burle made headlines around the world for taking on a record-setting 100-foot wave in Navare, Portugal.
“It was like the whole ocean stood still for a while for that wave, and I was able to do it. I was able to manage the speed with the bumps,” Burle told Fusion Live’s Pedro Andrade in a rare telvision interview.
But the wave nearly took the life of Maya Gabeira, Burle’s surfing partner and Brazil’s biggest female surfer. Burle had to perform CPR on her after pulling her from the water.
“I was saying to myself, ‘Maya please stay alive,'” he recalled.
Burle’s long surfing career has given him a deep respect for the ocean. He got his break in 1998, when he stunned the professional surfing world as a newcomer, winning a big wave championship in Mexico. It was the first time a Brazilian proved he could compete on the professional circuit, and since then, Burle has won the title again and again.
His passion for the water started in an unlikely place — his parents’ farm, where he would jump into nearby rivers whenever he had a chance. Burle’s friend showed him how to surf when he was 13-years-old. But when he decided to go pro, his family was skeptical.
“My father said many times would end up catching rubbish from the streets and living without money if I chose to be a professional surfer,” he said. “I heard that so many times. It was more about him being proud of my name because we share the same name. People started coming up to him and asking do you know Carlos Burle? He’s a great surfer. And he started to get more connected and I think he started to admire myself.”
Today, Burle has helped change the entire image of his sport. And the ocean is the center of his family. His wife surfs with him, and his three-year-old son is learning to ride the waves too.
“Every single day, I wake up and I’m grateful for it,” he said. “I pray every single morning for the life that I have, the career that I’m into, my sport and my family.”