On Friday, Australian Blake Johnston broke the Guinness record for the longest surfing session, battling swarms of jellyfish while riding hundreds of waves over 40 gruelling hours.
After breaking South African Josh Enslin’s previous record of 30 hours and 11 minutes, the 40-year-old former surfing pro burst into tears.
In the evening, Johnston surfed returned to shore to wild ovation from hundreds of supporters gathered at Sydney’s Cronulla Beach.
After finally putting up his surfboard, he was carried from the beach on the shoulders of his buddies while wearing a black cowboy hat and draped in a thermal blanket.
Johnston raised more than Aus$330,000 (US$221,000) for mental health, taking on the record to mark 10 years since losing his father to suicide.
He rode more than 700 waves in setting the record, braving pitch-black seas that are home to many species of shark.
“I’ve still got a job to do. I said 40 (hours) so I’ll go and give it a crack,” he told reporters earlier in the day, after passing the previous 30-hour record.
“I’m pretty cooked, yeah, but we’ll push through.”
Johnston surfed for more than 40 hours, beginning at 1:00 a.m. on Thursday and utilizing enormous spotlights to illuminate the water, although his official record time was not immediately available.
He was allowed to leave the ocean on occasion to relieve his eyes with eyedrops, replenish with snacks, and lather himself in sunscreen, according to the regulations of the attempt.
Before he rushed back into the swell, medics would check his heart rate and blood pressure.
With Sydney experiencing a brief heatwave, the water temperature has been hanging at a comfortable 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit), reducing the risk of hypothermia.
– ‘Only 30 hours’ –
Johnston had originally planned to raise money by tackling a 1,000-kilometre run (620 miles), but settled on surfing when he saw the previous record was “only” 30 hours.
“I thought I could just do it,” he said before the attempt.
“I push myself to the limits with my adventures and to prove to myself that I’m worthy and can get through hard times, and that’s when my lessons are learnt.”
He anticipated infected ears, dehydration and sleep deprivation would push his body to its limits.
Johnston’s brother Ben said they had also prepared for the possibility of a shark attack, but it wasn’t something that had worried them.
“I surfed at two in the morning with him and the lights actually went out so it was pitch black,” he told national broadcaster ABC.
“There were a whole bunch of jellyfish out there, so it was interesting to say the least.”
It is not Johnston’s first time taking part in a marathon test of human endurance.
In 2020, he ran 100 kilometres along the rugged coastline south of Sydney — covering the vast majority of the trek in bare feet.