A full cast of your favourite big wave protagonists descended on Nazare yesterday as an XXL swell pounded into shore.
In the morning, tow teams charged that voluminous peak; Sebastian Steudtner and Tom Butler teaming up to knock off a few bombs while Axi Muniain teamed with Nuno Santos – a name you're probably unfamiliar with but has a mission to play a violin while dropping into whatever Nazare throws his way. (See HERE)
A week ago, the WSL's Nazare Challenge ran for two heats before it was called off for being too windy, too dangerous. Yesterday morning, it was a tow only affair, too large to paddle until conditions cleaned up somewhat later on, making it paddleable for those who wanted it enough.
“It was still really big and some bombs coming through,” Sebastian Steudtner relays to MSW. “As always, hectic on the inside and challenging to surf with a lot of current moving around. Everyone was having fun and we all got good waves.
“Tom Butler towed me into a few waves and paddled in the afternoon, good to have him back in Nazare charging. Nuno Satos “Violinhio” who teamed up with Axi Muniain impressed me a lot yesterday, he had the dream of playing a song on his violin while dropping into a huge wave, and he did it. Very impressive and stoked for him on realizing his vision.
“Ross Clarke-Jones was out there and charging as always, his vibes are the best and I love when he is around.
“Lucas Chumbo the Nazare challenge champ and Carlos Burle where representing and going big, Lucas is the funniest person you will meet in Big wave surfing and always has fun in the water. And he charges like no tomorrow.
“Maya got a few really big waves again, she is an inspiration to watch out there.
“The paddle session in the afternoon was lead by Joao de Macedo, Alex Bothelo, Tom Lowe, Tom Butler, Lucas and a few more guys that where going hard in really difficult conditions
“To sum it up it was a good late season swell with a lot of waves coming though, a good crew and plenty of fun.“
As always, shooting all you see throughout this feature is lensman Helio Antonio: “Knowing this could be the last big swell of the season, and that the size would be dropping throughout the day, everyone hit the water before sunrise,” he tells magicseaweed.
“A lot of the big names of giant Nazare showed up; Garrett McNamara, Carlos Burle, Ross Clarke Jones, Sebastian Steudtner, Tom Butler, Hugo Vau, Alex Botelho, Maya Gabeira, Lucas Chumbo, Nuno Santos, David Langer, João Macedo, Axi Muniain.
“While some opted to tow in, others went paddling from the villa – a great warm up.
“Sebastian and Tom Butler teamed up and proved all their knowledge about this tricky place. This is one of the best teams out there, making wave after wave. Show is always on.
“Another great team was Garrett and RCJ. Ross surfed probably the biggest of the day and Garrett was surfing the (deadly) first peak like no one else does.
“Maya Gabeira also proved she's over the 2013 near drowning and surfed whatever monster came her way. Respect.
“The recent WSL Nazare Challenge winner Lucas Chumbo was also going like a madman surfing the mountains like he's been doing that for decades.
“One of the moments of the day was a big right surfed by Nuno Santos while playing the violin. I don't know how did it sound but it was a crazy thing to watch.
“While the tow-in crew was having a blast, all the surfers paddling had a very difficult session. In fact probably 95 per cent of the waves resulted in wipeouts. At this size, being successful when paddling at a beach that breaks all over the place is a mix between knowledge, expertise and a lot of luck.
“Alex Botelho was probably the one putting the most effort. He got pounded several times but never gave up until the situation of the day occurred. After another wipeout, Hugo Vau rushed to him with the jet and after being on the sled, Alex jumped to the water again to grab his board.
"Nazare has no mercy and half a second is enough to get in a bad situation. A tricky smaller wave surprised both and they lost the ski that was later hit by a very powerful and hollow inside wave. Honestly, I thought the ski was gone but after getting washed ashore, they managed to get it running again. Strong machine.
“No matter how experienced and skilled you are, Nazare can always surprise you and keep you humble."