XL Nazare: Big Wednesday

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 4d ago

The northern hemi's big wave season has officially opened. Mullaghmore kicked off over the weekend and, although we've seen a few underwhelming days at Portugal's behemoth wave Nazare, yesterday marked the start of surfing something significant.

That's not to say Nazare is tame (check the charts, here), not by any stretch of the imagination. Any time a crew of big wave aficionados strap up to head into that torrid nightmare, it's a calculated gamble. But we haven't seen Nazare stand classically tall as of yet – well, up until 24 hours ago that is.

Francisco Porcella.

Francisco Porcella.

© 2018 - Helio Antonio

A full cast of Nazare royalty graced Praia do Norte yesterday including Francsico Porcella, Sebastian Steudtner, Andrew Cotton (yes! A return after horror wipeout last season) and Justine Dupont. In the mix as well was Irish big wave hellman Conor Maguire and Oz's own no-concept-of-fear Russell Bierke – who sampled Nazare for the first time yesterday. Bierke picked off a few, and copped a couplea mean looking ones on the head and Maguire too managed to huck into a few.

“A broad, complex area of low pressure had been dominating the North Atlantic over the last few days," says MSW forecaster about the swell that birthed this session. "A particularly strong peripheral disturbance developed on its northwest flank off Cape Farewell on Tuesday, resulting in an area of storm-force northwest winds in the mid North Atlantic. This moved slowly east over the past 24 hours before weakening just west of Ireland."

Swell signature from Tuesday that helped breath life into Nazare.

Swell signature from Tuesday that helped breath life into Nazare.

"Sometimes you just gotta go," says Cotty via Insty. "It was big and lumpy but all I wanted was a couple waves and to feel the power. I fell on this one and definitely felt the power all right! Sometimes all you need is a proper pounding to brush away the cobwebs and get the confidence back. Luckily I was fine but unfortunately my board didn’t survive to see another swell."

Our man on the ground, Helio Antonio said: "Everyone had big expectations for the first real swell of the season even though it was clear by the forecast that it wouldn't be a huge day like we've seen. Still, Nazare always has some surprises and when you least expect a monster comes out of nowhere.

"Russell Bierke had the wipeout of the day after dropping one of the monsters. He drew a line too much to the pocket of the wave and couldn't escape the guillotine. He got smashed and when he arrived at the surface took another one on the head that was in his own words "the biggest hold down" he ever endured. He arrived at the beach pretty messed up."

Russell Bierke on a monster before it was down time, copping a double wave hold down. Brutal.

Russell Bierke on a monster before it was down time, copping a double wave hold down. Brutal.

© 2018 - Rafael Riancho

Now, have a run through of some of the best images out of Nazare from yesterday, courtesy of Helio.

Justine Dupont is a regular at Nazare.

Justine Dupont is a regular at Nazare.

© 2018 - Helio Antonio

© 2018 - Helio Antonio

Sebastian.

Sebastian.

© 2018 - Helio Antonio

Cotty, broken board but no broken back.

Cotty, broken board but no broken back.

© 2018 - Helio Antonio

Sebastian Steudtner, looking ever more comfortable at Nazare.

Sebastian Steudtner, looking ever more comfortable at Nazare.

© 2018 - Helio Antonio

Danilo Couto.

Danilo Couto.

© 2018 - Helio Antonio

Rafael Tapia.

Rafael Tapia.

© 2018 - Helio Antonio

When it's all said and done, put to bed, Nazare can still enthral.

When it's all said and done, put to bed, Nazare can still enthral.

© 2018 - Helio Antonio