Garrett McNamara And The Biggest Wave Ever Ridden – Nazare, Portugal

Nazare coming out party
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UPDATE 28.1.2013 – Garrett went even bigger in Nazare – check it out.

These day the surf web is flooded with clips and photos of Garrett McNamaras ride from Nazare, Portugal. Why? Well there is a little thing called 90ft wave and the biggest wave EVER ridden. Of course McNamara is now the main contender for the XXL Award together with his tow partner Andrew Cotton. None of the reports I have found actually say when this happened but it must have been the 30th of October when I was surfing in Peniche, Portugal. There was a huge swell forecasted a few days before and it was said that it should be twice the size of the previous swell when Nazare was first surfed by Garrett.

On the 30th I watched some friends surf Consolacao and later we wanted to go and check out Nazare to see the big wave action. Well…we went surfing a more protected spot instead and missed the show. Another friend did go to Nazare and watched as a jet ski was flipped and mauled by the shorebreak. But he did miss the biggest wave ever which probably happened earlier in the day.

Too bad we didn’t go, I could post some first hand photos from the session. Then again I had a pretty sweet session myself on much much much smaller waves of course so I don’t feel to bad.

So whats the deal with Nazare?

Nazare, Portugal

Nazare is a small fishing town north of Lisbon and a little north of Peniche. It is a known big wave spot that is mostly a shorebreak on smaller swells. Now it suddenly went from known to world famous. I’m not sure why it took international big wave surfers so long to discover Nazare, I am sure there were plenty of swells like this before at this spot.

What is so special about Nazare is the deep underwater canyon that cuts through the continental shelf and points straight at Nazare. Not only does this mean extra power and height, it also mean lots of double up peaks. Why?

To put it simple – when long period swell passes over the shallower edge of the deep water canyon it slows, bends and travels back into the path of oncoming waves. When these waves meet they produce significantly larger peaks with that typical a-frame shape.

The Ride

And Another One From Portuguese News I Guess

Garrets Words After The Ride

“At the end of the ride when it landed on me it felt like a ton of bricks” said Garrett. “At that moment it brought it all into perspective and I was very thankful to have made it because one mistake here could be your last.”

Garrett McNamara at Nazare, Portugal

Cotton Explains Why Were Some Waves Bigger Than Others

“There had been a couple of huge sets hitting the cliffs before this one swung in” said Andrew Cotton. “It’s when the canyon’s refraction combines with the running swell that you get the big ones, sort of a combination effect.”

“We saw the set coming, a three wave cluster much bigger than all the other sets we’d seen that day. The first wave was big, the second bigger and the third a monster. It was that third wave which Garrett surfed and then immediately afterwards the ocean sank back as if it had spent itself.”

Next week another even bigger swell hit Portugal, but it was accompanied by very strong winds and wasn’t exactly surfable. Also – the period of the swell was not that high as of the historic Nazare ride swell. Still, even on that day I managed to get a few small waves in Peniche. It really is a cool town with spots for every occasion :).

Anyway – the size of that wave is crazy, I wonder if the Atlantic ocean can produce something even bigger at Nazare. I think the size of Garrett McNamaras balls to ride it is not the issue here :) (remember the Antarctica surf trip?).

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