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

"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