Embodying the Spirit of the Search with Natxo Gonzalez

Matt Rott

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Updated 13d ago

Natxo Gonzalez is on a tear as of late. His sandbar discovery from last year has now achieved full viral status, after a number of edits surfaced from a second visit to the endless, sapphire-blue righthander a few months back.

He was also part of a recent exploratory trip to yet another endless sandbar (this one in the Indian Ocean), and released a video about that adventure a few weeks ago. And just this past week, with Nazare flexing and the world's best big wave surfers in the lineup, (and, bonus, we've got a live cam HERE.) Natxo snuck the wave of the day (and some might argue the best wave ever ridden at the oversized wedge), making a 20-foot barrel in front of the entire world that will likely be in contention for ride of the year.

On a flight home from yet another exploratory surf trip, I chatted with Natxo about his monumental tube, his penchant for sniffing out obscure setups, and his focus going into the northern hemisphere winter season.

Let's start with the obvious, Natxo. That barrel at Nazare was next level.
Thanks, man! It was an epic day. The week before I was in Spain and scored crazy waves there. And then two days before the contest I went to Nazare with all of my friends and my family, my filmer John, all of my favourite people.

It was good vibes, I felt no pressure, just happy to be there. I felt really confident. I've been surfing a lot, eating well, training three days per week. So I felt really good going in. And on the warmup day, we had Nazare as good as it gets.

It wasn't that big, but just perfect conditions, totally pumping. It's always rippy and shitty there, but that day there was no rip. And it was still big—not massive, but Nazare is always heavy. So that was a fun day, a good warmup. I tried a new 10'4", and it was a good one, and I knew it was the board I was going to surf the next day.

After the Nazare comp wrapped, a monster brewed, well beyond the realms of paddling mortals.

After the Nazare comp wrapped, a monster brewed, well beyond the realms of paddling mortals.

And then the day of the contest, I was a little worried about the size, because the forecast didn't look that big. But then we woke up and saw the perfect lines and the perfect winds, and we knew it was on. It was the best call ever, for Nazare. They nailed it, calling the event on. I'd never seen conditions like that in Nazare, and I think it was a dream day.

I was super lucky to get that one wave. It was the one I was looking for, and I was sitting inside to try to get the double-ups, but I didn't know it was going to be that good. I saw the other guys paddling out because we knew a big set was coming, but I waited inside. And the first one I couldn't get, but I saw it did exactly what I wanted.

So I hoped that the second one would do the same thing. And when I turned and saw the wave, it was like, “What the fuck?!” The other guys tried to paddle for it because they saw that it was a bomb, but they were too far out. And I knew this was my time, because I was there waiting, and I was in the right spot.

In the beginning I thought I was too deep because I was way behind the peak. But I said to myself, “Okay, I'm going, and I'm going to pull in, and let's see what happens.”

But I said to myself, “Okay, I'm going, and I'm going to pull in, and let's see what happens

When I pulled into that thing, it was massive, just a gigantic tube. And the second section sort of chandeliered on me...I think there was a jet ski wake or something. So I did a high line to make it through, and it was super intense. I didn't know I was coming out, because I couldn't even see. And when I came out, I heard all the screams. I knew all of my friends and family were there, and the whole world was watching on the live stream, and I immediately just started crying.

It wasn't the best wave of my life, because I have been to Namibia and those places, and I really enjoy more relaxed, perfect waves. But with everything that was happening, with the contest and all of my friends and everyone watching, that made it more special. It wasn't the best wave of my life, because I have been to Namibia and those places

It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. You know when you have a good dream, and then you wake up? That day was like that. It was a good dream day. I'd been dreaming about that for a long time, and I think the work I put in is what made it worth it.

And it was so funny, I was crying on the jet ski, and screaming, and everyone was clapping. And it was such good vibes. I really enjoyed that day, because the whole contest was good vibes. There was no hassling, we were just screaming for each other to go big and push the limits. And that's what surfing is—pushing the limits between friends, and having a good time.

You have had a pretty crazy run, between your sessions in Spain, and then Nazare, and then straight into another trip after that. You must be ready for some rest?

Man, it's been crazy. It was flat at home, and then suddenly it turned on and we were filming for a project. So I was tired. And then on to Nazare, and then this trip. So I just want to go home and sleep.

And then there's Hawaii. I don't think that'll be the same as Nazare because I won't have all of my friends there. But Hawaii is always special for me. I love big waves, and having these sessions with not too many guys out is just amazing.

Most importantly I just want to go there and enjoy it. You have to be lucky, I think. In big waves, luck plays a big part of it. And also experience. The first time I was on tour, I was young and didn't have a lot of experience. But this time I have been going to Nazare and Peahi and Mavs and Puerto, all of the spots that have been on the tour, and I feel like I have more experience than ever before in my life.

And I have been training hard, so I think it is possible to win the title, and that is definitely something I'm working towards. That would just be a bonus on top of the amazing waves I am getting with my friends.


I mean, I love big waves, of course. I have been surfing them since I was young. I started surfing big waves to become better in contests—I told myself that if I could do a big turn on a four-metre wave, then when I was surfing a contest in one-metre waves, I would be ripping!

But I also love searching. And I discovered that wave over there…somewhere else [laughs]…and I think that was the best experience of my life. It was hard for me to get there and to make it all happen.

And when we got there in time for that first swell, when I saw the lineup, I started to cry with my cameraman John. It was funny, we were hugging each other in the middle of nowhere, just crying and laughing. And I think that was the best experience. Because it is really hard to make an adventure and find these kinds of waves.

I did a couple more adventures to other places, and I didn’t score. But I think that’s what makes me more excited—to go out and look again, and search out other waves.

Because the ones where you go and you don’t score—that’s just more motivation to make it on the next adventure. If I have time to go for adventures, I will go for sure. I am Google Earthing all day long, every day. It’s just different vibes, different types of adventures. I love big waves, but searching out different places and getting barrelled—I think that is a good motivation too.

Well I’m sure you have a few more secrets in the vault. Keep us posted, we always enjoy following your adventures!
Thanks guys!


Matt Rott

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