An Australian man who has been identified as Blake Johnston has shattered the world record for the longest surfing session, dodging swarms of jellyfish to ride hundreds of waves across 40 punishing hours.
After breaking the previous record of 30 hours and 11 minutes held by South African Josh Enslin, the 40-year-old former surfing pro sobbed uncontrollably.
Hundreds of fans had gathered at Sydney’s Cronulla Beach to witness as Johnston surfed back to shore in the evening to thunderous applause.
He ultimately hung up his surfboard and was taken from the beach by his companions while wearing a heated blanket and a black cowboy hat.
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 eventually surfed for more than 40 hours — having started at 1:00 am on Thursday, using large spotlights to illuminate the water — but his official record time was not immediately known.
Under the rules of the attempt, he was allowed to sporadically leave the ocean so he could soothe his eyes with eyedrops, refuel with snacks and lather himself up in sunscreen.
Medics would check his heart rate and blood pressure before he dashed back into the swell.
With Sydney in the grip of a minor heatwave, the water temperature has been hovering around a balmy 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit), lessening the risk of hypothermia.