It's official, the liquid mountain of Nazare has awakened. Portugal's behemoth wave jacked into the XL region yesterday, thanks due to a storm that had sent swell to the UK a few days before.
It's been years since the North Atlantic looked like this, two back-to-back storms (one, the remains of Hurricane Epsilon) are setting off just about everywhere in western Europe,a nd will continue to do so for the next few days. The smallest storm landed in the UK over the weekend and sent a XL swell pulse down to Portugal yesterday afternoon, as captured throughout this feature by master lensman Helio Antonio.
Live cam: Nazare
Seeing this monster week blip up on the charts, a cast of your favourite big wave protagonists clawed their way to Portugal where travel restrictions have been lifted for the time being. Speaking to MSW, Nic Von Rupp said: “Yeah was a nice warm up, just good to get out there, feel the board, the conditions, the ski. There's more on the way.”
Throughout the day we streamed around four hours of footage from our live cam that perches above the headline at Nazare, to our Facebook page, with Helio checking in every so often to corroborate what was happening on screen. “Sebastian Steudtner and Maya Gabeira just caught a couple of bombs,” he relayed in the afternoon as we watched the speck of that pair tow into a 40ft plus beast on the cam.
Andrew Cotton's in the mix too. “Got a couple of waves,” he said. “It pulsed in the morning but I watched for a bit then had a couple with Garrett McNamara before dark. It's going to be a long week so sort of trying to pace myself.”
Helio added: "This was a good warmup. There's always changes in team members and they're all getting used to each other. Almost everyone is now using a spotter on land to help them, there's also a new rescue team on the beach and I saw more surfers wearing helmets. I think everyone is taking security more seriously after last season's incident with Alex Botelho.
"Portuguese young charger Tony Laureano is getting very serious and caught some bombs. He's the youngest out there at 18-years-old, and has been putting the time and effort the last seasons, both towing and paddling."
But, like all the above said, this was just the warm up session.
The main event is tomorrow evening and Thursday, when Hurricane Epsilon, who's been spinning off the east coast of the US for the past few days, joins up with a mother system in Greenland, sending a black blob of doom straight to the shores of western Europe.
Forecast wave heights for Nazare, France, Spain are humongous – and could well be one of the biggest swells for Portugal ever seen.
This new swell arrives tomorrow, with periods initially over 20 secs and wave heights quickly jumping up to 20 feet or so, and light variable winds. It peaks sometime between late Wednesday and early Thursday, before gradually tapering off. Winds are forecast to remain light and variable throughout.
In northwest Spain, particularly at exposed spots in Galicia, wave heights could hit 30 feet at some spots, with periods exceeding 20 secs. Winds are hard to predict here, but the latest forecasts are showing anything between moderate south-westerlies and fresh westerlies.
Down into Portugal, the swell arrives slightly later, ramping up through Wednesday, exceeding 15 feet at exposed spots late Wednesday and early Thursday, before gradually decreasing over the following days. Wind conditions are expected to be good, with light variable winds or light easterlies throughout. Nazaré will, of course, be humungous, with periods around 18 to 20 secs and wave heights that could exceed 30 feet.
As always, we'll be keeping you updated with the latest in this running article. Stay tuned.