Panamanian surfer rides wave for 41 miles!

The Panama Canal is truly a modern wonder of engineering and construction. Stretching 48 miles in length, it offers a narrow corridor of water between North and South America through which ships can pass to and from the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. This past weekend, champion surfer Gary Saavedra grabbed his board and hit those waters, hoping to set several new records in the process.

On Saturday, Saavedra made history by becoming the first person to ever surf in the Canal, but that was just the prelude to what he really had in mind. The 13-time national champion of Panama hopped on his board and began riding a wave generated by a lead boat, and then proceeded to surf for 3 hours, 55 minutes, and 2 seconds straight, covering 41.3 miles in the process. Both of those marks are new records for time and distance in open water.

The ride was no simple walk in the park however, as Saavedra had to deal with windy conditions, plenty of choppy water, and the wake generated by a number of passing cargo freighters sailing between the oceans. The long ride took its toll physically as well, as he rode the final hour with a cramp in his leg which is ultimately what brought an end to his day on the water.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday huh? What did you do this past weekend?

[Photo Credit: Associated Press]

Massive floods close Panama Canal but end of world not near

Ship transit through the Panama Canal was suspended Wednesday as flood waters, the worst ever recorded, made transit impossible.

17 hours of prolonged heavy rain forced the closing, only the third time since the canal opened 96 years ago and the first time because of flooding. Panama’s civil protection system declared Eastern Panama on high alert and issued evacuation orders for over 1000 people in dozens of flooded neighborhoods.

Reopening on Thursday, operations are back to normal at this time and no cruise ship itineraries were affected reports

The Canal also closed in 1989 when the United States invaded Panama to depose bad guy Manuel Noreiga. In 1915 and into 1916 landslides closed the Canal, only months after it opened.

In case you missed it in history class, the Panama Canal was built by the United States between 1904 and 1914. It serves as a link between the Atlantic and Pacific ocean and handles more than 200 million metric tons of cargo every year.

Flickr photo by galif548