di Erika Scafuro
You don’t need to be a surfer to connect Nazaré with the Big Wave. Located in the Portuguese province of the Estremadura, north of Lisbon, this small village of fisherman, named as a transliteration of the biblical Nazareth, has become famous all over the world for its giant waves.
Try to imagine this little picturesque village, linked with a funicular railway between the beach and the old part on the top of the cliff, with an ancient fishing tradition that involve all the inhabitants and an atmosphere of a time that goes by slowly and in a authentic way, with a stunning scenario made of the colours of the rocks overhanging the blue of the Atlantic Ocean and long golden beaches of fine sand crowded of tourists during Summer: this is Nazaré, also known as the place to ride the biggest waves in the world.
But why do that kind of waves form right here? The formation of such big waves is due to the largest underwater canyon in Europe, about 230 km long and five thousand meters deep, that ends in Praia do Norte, along the beach and the promontory of Nazaré. When the winter swells and winds coming from North, that strike the Atlantic Ocean, come here and hit the seabed that lowers sharply, the energy that is generated causes the famous big waves.
Since 2011, when american surfer Garrett McNamara entered the Guinness World Records riding an almost 24 meters wave in Praia do Norte and gave fame to this place, surfers reach Nazaré from all over the world to tame these waves so violent and fast. Nowdays the official Guinners World Records title holder for the biggest wave rode is the brazilian Rodrigo Koxa who, in November 2017, surfed an almost 25 meters high wave at Nazaré.
Since 2016 every year during Big Wave season, a window time from October to March in which it occurs the monitoring weather and ocean conditions, World Surf League plans the call for a Big Wave world competition that take place in Praia do Norte, where brave male and female surfers, face the big wave breaking there and take part in a challenge against the Nature. An event like this is so attractive and people come from different places to watch it live from the beach, feeling so close the power of Ocean and witnessing fearless surfers that, pulled on the wave by jet-ski, take part in this test.
Some weeks ago, on February 11 “Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge” took place: this was the first event team oriented in the history of league with a new format that predicted 19 big wave surfers split up in tow teams that competed in a six-hous session with no elimination. Here the winners for the four categories: Men’s Wave of the Day: Kai Lenny; Women’s Wave of the Day: Justine Dupont; Team Champions: Young Bulls (Lucas Chianca and Kai Lenny) and The Jogos Santa Casa Commitment Award: Water Safety Team.