Riding Giant Waves in Nazare, Portugal

Riding Giant Waves
Riding Giant Waves

Riding Giant Waves in Nazaré, Portugal | On November 8, 2017 big wave surfer Rodrigo Koxa took on a giant wave, created by a storm near the Portuguese village Nazare. At almost 24.4m (80ft), it is believed to be the biggest wave ever ridden by a surfer …

riding giant waves
The water near Nazaré can be rough … perfect for big wave surfers.

Rodrigo Koxa is a Brazilian big wave surfer. For him a 5 or 10 meter wave isn’t crazy enough. He prefers to go for the max. possible. Each time his life depends on the merci of a wild ocean. Koxa actually didn’t want to become a big wave surfer in the first place. He wasn’t good enough for the WSL contests.

Especially during winter time, violent storms in the Atlantic Ocean generate waves as high as 6-story buildings. Despite the cold water big wave surfers try to ride them. They are just a slip away from injury or death. But with a suitable breathing technology, a feeling for the right moment and a supporting team behind you it’s doable. At some point, a wave simply becomes too big to manually paddle into. This is when so called tow-surfing begins. Somebody needs to tow you into a 30 meter wave; try to get out there alive. In 2012, British surfer Andrew Cotton towed his Hawaiian friend Garrett McNamara into the Guinness Book of World Records when he rode a 24m wave at that same beach near Nazaré, Portugal. That’s been officially recorded as the largest wave ever ridden, until November 8, 2017.

What outsiders don’t see: Big wave surfing is a team sport with not-so-much-space for egos. Meticulous planning and strong support are essential to get this done without casualties. But for some the price seems to be worth it. A huge canvas opens up before you, allowing you to draw some amazing lines and go anywhere you like = a strange feeling – probably only comparable with wing suit flying. But it also comes with a nasty downside: the wipe outs. They feel somehow like car crashes – there is no better explanation to describe it.

Pushing the limits

Big wave surfing has evolved so rapidly in such a short space of time, there’s no telling what and where we’ll be surfing in the future. Big waves mean big trouble, because the accelerating speed of the falling lip plus half a million kilograms of water over your head traveling at 70km/h can break your bones and push you several meters below the surface.

Riding Giant Waves | Top 10 Big Wave Beaches

Riding giant waves can be fatal. Famous surfers did loose their lives. But if you are up for the challenge, you might want to know: What are the world’s top 10 big wave beaches to surf? Here comes the list.

  • Mentawai Islands, Indonesia
  • Banzai Pipeline, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii -> Chili & Chirp have been there :)
  • Mullaghmore Head, Ireland
  • Teahupoo, Tahiti
  • Shipstern Bluff, Australia
  • Dungeons, South Africa
  • Mavericks, Half Moon Bay, California -> Chili & Chirp have been there too :)
  • Punta de Lobos, Chile
  • Praia De Norte, Portugal -> That’s were Carlos Burle took on the 24m giant wave
  • Waimea Bay, Hawaii

Riding Giant Waves. By Chili & Chirp | © Hugging Horizons | Visit our Travel Alphabet.