Big Wave Surfing requires an extra special kind of crazy. There are so many moving parts, all of which have to work in perfect harmony, in order for the surfers to catch a wave and everyone makes it out safely.
The tiny fishing down of Nazaré, Portugal is located roughly halfway between Porto and Lisbon and it is home to the largest wave in the world, and a wave that breaks so close to the shore that spectators are able to stand on the old brick walkways and watch as surfers throw caution to the ride and ride waves larger than most apartment buildings. Nazaré has been home to multiple world records for the largest wave ever surfed, with the current world record breaking the previous one by 20-feet.
It is also home to some of the gnarliest wipeouts on the planet. If the surfer loses control at any point on the wave then all hell breaks loose in an instant. That surfer is then relying on their board to float them up to the surface and their support team on the Jet Ski to swoop in and save them before the next wave comes through and they’re stuck choking on saltwater for another minute (or five).
If everything goes right, the surfer gets their ride in and exits the wave smoothly. Then the jet ski hauls ass in, grabs them, and they take off before the next wave in the set crashes in. If they take too long then both the surfer and the Jet Ski driver could be royally fucked.
What we see here is professional Big Wave Surfer Lucas Chumbo on November 20th catch a sick wave on one of Nazaré’s biggest swells of the year, ride the wave out, get grabbed by the Jet Ski, and then the two somehow defy everything our eyes are seeing and escape the torrent of whitewater that’s engulfed them and they miraculously escape on the other side unscathed. Check it out:
As I mentioned before, November 20th was a huuuuuuuge day at Nazaré. As Winter swoops into Portugal’s northern Atlantic coast the waves at Nazaré start charging. This brings in the best big wave surfers from all across the planet and here we see some pros shredding waves that no sane person would ever think about riding.
I’ll keep repeating this for as long as Big Wave Surfers catch waves so big they can’t even paddle in: they are all crazy in a way that’s almost undefinable. No level-headed person would ever see something untameable and think ‘fuck it, I’m going to put my life on the line and charge that wave.’
It’s quite unfortunate that the WSL announced a complete overhaul of the Big Wave Tour, essentially canceling the tour’s existence and instead holding isolated events/competitions. Thankfully, the competition at Nazaré will continue to exist when the conditions are right.