Garrett McNamara calls Mavericks wave one of the 'biggest wipeouts of all time'

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"It was one of the biggest wipeouts of all time. "

On January 7, big wave legend Garrett McNamara paddled onto a 50-foot-monster at Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, California, and took a drop that he nearly didn't make it back from.

"It was like I hit concrete," McNamara told AOL in an exclusive interview at the 2016 Laureus Awards. "I hit so hard that it shattered my shoulder. It shattered in nine pieces."

Looking back on the day, everything seemed perfect. The 48-year-old surfer, who is the current world record holder for surfing the world's tallest wave after he challenged a 78-foot wave in Nazaré, Portugal, in 2011, said before the massive drop, everything was beautiful.

"I stood up and I was coming down perfect and then it sucked me back up – and then it let me go. It let me go so fast and I was flying down," he said. "The sun was just coming over the mountain and it was so bright and it was shining right in my eyes – and it was beautiful and just super bright. All I remember is everything felt perfect and then all of a sudden – boom. I went over the front of the board – like going over the handlebars – and hit the water so hard."

His team rushed to pull him out before he went over the rocks, but he was unable to pull himself onto the jetski due to his extensive injury.

McNamara explained that the head of the bone was shattered in nine pieces and the humerus shaft broke off and lodged itself in his pectoral muscle. At the time, he was praying it was broken over a dislocation because so many friends have never recovered from dislocations, but like he said, "be careful what you wish for."

"After two or three waves under water, the pain kicked in, and it was like nothing I've ever experienced. My arm – was literally – detached besides the skin holding it on and it was flopping around. I had a bruise on my head because my arm flopping around hitting me."

In hindsight, McNamara said there was something that just didn't feel right in his gut that day, but he'd been waiting for that wave and he just went for it.

WATCH: Footage of the huge wipeout at Mavericks

The road to recovery hasn't been easy, but the North Shore resident is using the year to spend his time volunteering and he recently completed his memoir, "Hound of the Sea: Wild Man. Wild Waves. Wild Wisdom," due out on shelves August 16. McNamara has also been working on several projects as a member of the Laureus Foundation and says he's looking at the whole experience of being sidelined from the surf as a good thing.

"I always work on doing good things, but now I can do that without worrying about the waves."

And the next wave he's hoping to chase? His beloved break in Nazaré, which the World Surf League just announced they'd add as a stop on the Big Wave Tour in 2016. "If I feel 100 percent, I'll compete."

PHOTOS: Garrett McNamara through the years

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Garrett McNamara calls Mavericks wave one of the 'biggest wipeouts of all time'
Hawaiian big wave surfer Garrett McNamara rides a wave in Praia do Norte in Nazare, central Portugal, on November 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
Big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara of the U.S. gestures while speaking during an interview with Reuters in Nazare February 12, 2014. McNamara, 46, has had countless experiences like that scouring the world for the biggest waves to surf. Now, after setting his first record and finding what he calls the "Holy Grail of huge waves" in Nazare (Portuguese for Nazareth) he has his eye on the next big wave. Picture taken February 12, 2014. REUTERS/Marcos Borga (PORTUGAL - Tags: SPORT)
A surfer rides a big wave during a tow-in surfing session at the Praia do Norte, or North beach, in Nazare, Portugal, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. US surfer Garrett McNamara set a world record for the largest wave surfed when he rode a 23.7 metre wave (78-foot) in Nazare in 2011. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
US surfer Garrett McNamara holds his surfboard before a surf session at the fishing harbour in Nazare on November 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
US surfer Garrett McNamara looks at the sea after a surf session at Praia do Norte in Nazare on November 1, 2013. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
TEAHUPOO REEF - JUNE 1: United States Garrett McNamara (L) and United States Mark Healey (R) compete during a free session of surf tow in, in the southern Pacific ocean island of Tahiti, French Polynesia, on June 1, 2013 in Teahupoo. (Photo by GREGORY BOISSY/AFP/Getty Images)
US surfer Garrett McNamara waits for a wave during a surf session at Praia do Norte in Nazare on January 30, 2013. McNamara currently holds the world record for the biggest wave surfed after riding a 78-foot (23.77 metre) breaker in Nazare, central Portugal, on November 1, 2011 but on January 28, 2013 was thought to have gone better at the same location. The 45-year-old from Hawaii was cautious about his exploit, though, telling reporters that he had 'no idea' about the size of the wave and that his partner Kealii Mamala may even have set the new global benchmark. AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara speaks to his wife after taking part in a surfing session at Praia do Norte in Nazare on January 29, 2013. McNamara arrived on January 28 at Praia do Norte, the 'north beach' in the village of Nazare, central Portugal, in an attempt to break his own record for the largest wave ever surfed in the world. On January 28, McNamara surfed a huge wave that could be higher than the one he surfed on November 1, 2011, a wave of 23.77 meters recognized by Guinness World Records as the 'largest ever surfed '. If the claims are verified, McNamara would have beaten his previous record, which was also set at Nazare. AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara gets ready for a surf session at Nazare's fishing harbour on January 29, 2013. McNamara arrived on January 28 at Praia do Norte, the 'north beach' in the village of Nazare, central Portugal, in an attempt to break his own record for the largest wave ever surfed in the world. On January 28, McNamara surfed a huge wave that could be higher than the one he surfed on November 1, 2011, a wave of 23.77 meters recognized by Guinness World Records as the 'largest ever surfed '. If the claims are verified, McNamara would have beaten his previous record, which was also set at Nazare. AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara looks at the ocean after taking part in a surf session at Praia do Norte in Nazare on January 29, 2013. McNamara arrived on January 28 at Praia do Norte, the 'north beach' in the village of Nazare, central Portugal, in an attempt to break his own record for the largest wave ever surfed in the world. On January 28, McNamara surfed a huge wave that could be higher than the one he surfed on November 1, 2011, a wave of 23.77 meters recognized by Guinness World Records as the 'largest ever surfed '. If the claims are verified, McNamara would have beaten his previous record, which was also set at Nazare. AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara prepares for a surf session at Nazare's fishing harbour on January 29, 2013. McNamara arrived on January 28 at Praia do Norte, the 'north beach' in the village of Nazare, central Portugal, in an attempt to break his own record for the largest wave ever surfed in the world. On January 28, McNamara surfed a huge wave that could be higher than the one he surfed on November 1, 2011, a wave of 23.77 meters recognized by Guinness World Records as the 'largest ever surfed '. If the claims are verified, McNamara would have beaten his previous record, which was also set at Nazare. AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
PACIFIC NORTHWEST--JANUARY 09-- Garrett McNamara, not visible behind the wave, uses a Sea Doo personal water craft to whip 18-year-old TJ Gumiela, of Long Beach, NY, into a large tube ride at 'the slab' in the Pacific Northwest recently as videographers capture the action. The slab is not so much a normal ocean wave as a sudden, violent tear in the fabric of the ocean. Veteran surfers grimace at the very sight of its disfigured shape. When it rolls out of the deep, it does not rise, but instead sucks all the water up in its path. The result is not a wall with a front and back, but a momentary hole in the sea - and a ledge in the great volume of the North Pacific ready to slam it shut. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
PACIFIC NORTHWESTÂÂJANUARY 09ÂÂBig wave pro surfer Garrett McNamara, 41, of Hawaii, hugs his 12ÂyearÂold son, Titus, wearing a ski mask for warmth, as they prepare their Sea Doo personal water craft to to tow in a crew of big wave surfers at the cold water secret spot they call 'the slab' in the Pacific Northwest. The slab is not so much a normal ocean wave as a sudden, violent tear in the fabric of the ocean. Veteran surfers grimace at the very sight of its disfigured shape. When it rolls out of the deep, it does not rise, but instead sucks all the water up in its path. The result is not a wall with a front and back, but a momentary hole in the sea  and a ledge in the great volume of the North Pacific ready to slam it shut. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara talks to the media at Nazare fishing harbour before taking part in a surf session at Praia do Norte in Nazare on January 29, 2013. McNamara arrived on January 28 at Praia do Norte, the 'north beach' in the village of Nazare, central Portugal, in an attempt to break his own record for the largest wave ever surfed in the world. On January 28, McNamara surfed a huge wave that could be higher than the one he surfed on November 1, 2011, a wave of 23.77 meters recognized by Guinness World Records as the 'largest ever surfed '. If the claims are verified, McNamara would have beaten his previous record, which was also set at Nazare. AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
US surfer Garrett McNamara rides a big wave during a tow-in surfing session at the Praia do Norte, or North beach, in Nazare, Portugal, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. McNamara set a world record for the largest wave surfed when he rode a 23.7 metre wave (78-foot) in Nazare in 2011. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
US surfer Garrett McNamara grabs his surfboard as he is interviewed by a Portuguese TV channel after a tow-in surfing session at the Praia do Norte or North beach, in Nazare, Portugal, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. McNamara set a world record for the largest wave surfed when he rode a 23.7 metre wave (78-foot) in Nazare in 2011. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
A surfer drops in on a large wave at Praia do Norte in Nazare, Portugal, November 29, 2015. The Praia do Norte beach has become a famous beach for big waves surfers around the world since Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara's world record for the largest wave surfed in 2011. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante
Big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara (R) and Australian surfer Ross Clark-Jones check a surf board after a surf session at Praia do Norte, in Nazare December 12, 2014. Praia do Norte beach has gained popularity with big wave surfers since Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara broke a world record for the largest wave surfed here in 2011. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante (PORTUGAL - Tags: SPORT)
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