Blake Johnston emerged from the surf at Cronulla Beach exhausted and aching but with a world record to his name.
The Sydney local surfed continuously for 40 hours, enduring two days of 30-plus degrees Celcius temperatures to raise money for youth mental health.
Johnston said he was “pretty cooked” while briefly returning to the beach to speak with reporters during the record attempt as spectators cheered him on.
“Thanks everyone, you’re the best,” Johnston said, before heading back into the swell.
“Everyone deserves to feel awesome, deserves to take care of yourselves.”
Johnston was eventually helped from the water at 5pm on Mar. 17, smashing the previous record held by South African Josh Enslin by 10 hours.
People gathered along the beach to witness the feat and offer support.
Johnston, a local surf instructor and former professional surfer, performed the gruelling task to raise money for the Chumpy Pullin Foundation.
The charity was set up to honour the memory of professional snowboarder Alex Pullin, who died in 2020.
Johnston lost his father, Wayne, to suicide a decade ago.
“This is to honour the anniversary of our dad … for Blake, it’s been like this crazy journey since we lost our dad,” brother Ben said.
“This is just something to honour that and he really wants to actively show people that there are tools to deal with mental health.”
The physical strain of 40 hours in the water is extreme, with risks including sunburn, dehydration, sharks and marine stingers.
The plan was to raise $250,000 (US$167,700) for the foundation and more than $200,000 (US$134,200) has already been donated.
Johnston’s wife Lauren said while she was relieved her husband was a new world record holder, she always knew he would finish.
“I knew he was always going to get the goal that he set,” Lauren said.
The 40-year-old said earlier this week he wanted to inspire the kids he now coaches in surfing and provide them with practical tools and support to make it through tough times.
“I’m not nice to myself at times. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a great husband, father and friend,” Johnston said.
Johnston also smashed his goal to surf more than 500 waves—at an average of one wave every six minutes—riding more than 700 waves in total.
He was afterwards taken to the hospital and placed under observation while recovering.