Big wave surfing is often overlooked amongst the most dangerous extreme sports on the planet. If you’ve never been surfing before it’s difficult to understand how powerful the ocean is even when it comes to small waves.
When a surfer is riding skyscraper-sized waves like the ones in Nazaré, Portugal, one of the largest big wave breaks in the world, they’re putting their lives at risk everytime they paddle out. But, they are providing themselves with a safety net in most instances. That safety net comes in the form of the rescue team riding wave runners that are rigged to swoop in and rescue the surfer between waves.
If a surfer wipes out and/or pulls out of a massive wave then the rescue jet ski rider can haul ass in there, grab the surfer and pull them on the back, and get out of there before the next wave comes through. This is how it works in most instances but when the waves are as gargantuan as they are at Nazaré then all hell can break loose even for the best-trained teams.
This footage shows professional big wave surfer Alex Botelho paddling into a wave at Nazaré back on February 16th before getting caught in the mush. Hugo Vau on the ski rescue swoops in to get him, then they try and go back for the lost board and that’s when things go from bad to worse in a matter of seconds.