The Power of Big Waves: Watch Surfing’s Wipeout of the Year

By: | September 18th, 2015

Ever think about the power contained in ocean waves? According to scientists, the amount of energy contained in a wave is related to its wavelength, water depth, and the force of gravity.

One calculation by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimates the total wave energy along the continental shelf of the United States at 2,640 TWh/yr. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that world energy consumption is about 155,505 TWh/yr. Clearly, wave power cannot meet all the world’s energy needs, but it can be part of a portfolio of renewable energy sources.

Appreciating the Power of Waves

The following video shows Niccolo Porcella of Sardegna, Italy, at Teahupoo in Tahiti in what is being described as the worst wipeout of all time, certainly of the year. Porcella’s wipeout has been entered in the TAGHeuer Wipeout of the Year Award and the WSL Bigwave Awards, and winners will be selected at the end of 2015.

According to Porcella in an interview with Surfer Magazine:

“I smacked the water really hard but thought I had penetrated and was going to pop out the back,” he told Surfer. “I took a stroke toward the surface, thinking ‘this is too good to be true,’ then realized one hand was surrounded by water and the other surrounded by air. At this point, I realized I was getting sucked over. The beating that followed was the most violent thing I have ever felt in my life. It instantly tore apart my wetsuit and life vest. I hit the reef five times, got held under for a bit, popped up, and fought for a breath before the next wave landed on top of me. That second wave sent me straight into the reef on my back. Then there were two or three more before I finally washed into the lagoon.”

The following video by Tim Pruvost shows the wave cresting and Porcella losing his balance about a third of the way down the wave.

David Russell Schilling

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