We got a little teaser of XL Nazare last week but yesterday, a strong pulse of swell set the locale off once again. Not the biggest, sure, but still mind-blowingly heavy, enough for Pedro Scooby to wipeout and say it was the closest to death he's ever been.
Swell has been pumping in from the north west for quite a while now and will continue to do so for the next few days. And while Tuesday was a little smaller than anticipated, Wednesday was a different kind of beast altogether – and one of the top five days at Nazare in as many years, according to unsung charger (but bonafide hellman) Rafael Tapia from Chile.
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Although, Maya Gabeira managed to snag a bomb on Tuesday, amidst the organised carnage of a Nazare lineup. Meanwhile, Chumbo punted off the face of a 40 footer – because why wouldn't you.
About Tuesday, Portugal's favourite slab hunter Nic Von Rupp said: “I thought it was going to be really big and then it wasn't, think the swell was a bit north. It's weird, you never know what's going to happen in the canyon. You wake up in the morning and you see it, and you can see the swell direction is perfect, but on a 50ft swell with 20 seconds, you'd expect Nazare to roar - but Tuesday, wasn't too big.”
“Waves were difficult, choppy and the lineup was crowded which led to some some waves being impacted by ski trails. Not easy to surf big Nazare with clean waves - if you add the crazy bumps caused by the jets it turns out pretty messy,” said lensman Helio Antonio.
“Maya caught the wave of the day and rode it perfectly. Teaming with Sebastian sure has its perks. Wednesday was a totally different story. Waves got more perfect as the wind turned north and by the end of the day, it was finally possible to watch the kind of A-frames Nazare can deliver.
“Justine caught a big bomb, amazing how both her and Maya are committed to push the boundaries of women surfing and Nazare is the right place to do it.”
And then...what a difference a day makes because yesterday was right up there, conditions glassy with near-perfect form. Sebastian Steudtner pulled into one of the taller waves of the day, an impressive looking mountain looming behind as he cruised that voluminous mass top-to-bottom. In fact, it was Mr Steudtner who found Pedro Scooby after his horror wipeout.
The Brazilian was severely dazed after a hold down, barely conscious. Sebastian scooped him up on the ski and gunned to shore where he was seen to by a medical team. Mr Scooby's ok though – but likely a flogging he, or the teams scrambling to find him in the water, won't soon forget.
About the Scooby incident on Wednesday Helio said: “He got a huge beating early in the day suffering a two-wave hold down. Guys in the lineup were getting really tense because they couldn't find him. But finally Sebastian found him almost unconscious and drove him to shore.”
Rafael relays to MSW: “Yesterday (Wednesday Nov 13) was one of the top five days I've seen in as many years at Nazare. Big, not the biggest, 50-60ft faces, but the conditions were extremely good.
“Kind of a strange day. We took it slow, I partnered with Nic Von Rupp who I've been partnering up with for the last few years. We headed out late in the day and we had no idea about Scooby almost drowning. He was being taken care of – we didn't know it happened. Nic got a big one, All-in-all was an amazing day.
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“After my second session I ended up taking one on the first peak that wasn't as glassy as the other ones. I couldn't make it around and felt that big Nazare power. I don't like coming in but that was enough...I felt like it broke my back. Nic was right there to pick me up so all good. Came up to the lighthouse and it was so nice to see it going off. It was an amazing day. Very rare we get those extra special sessions. It was warm, sunny, let's see what is in store for the next couple of days. Hope Scooby is good.”
“But with the end of the paddle contest and the introduction of a tow contest at Nazare this year, there's been a big shift in the water,” Rafael adds about the tow-only event that is set to go in extreme conditions at Praia do Norte. “Last couple of years, everyone's been pushing the limits of paddling into some crazy, crazy waves. I think this shift has helped people be more conscious of pushing it when it is extremely dangerous. It's been a good shift but has bought a lot more crowds. A big dangerous with more people in the lineup, still Nazare is Nazare.”
“Sebastian caught what was probably the biggest of the day, so heavy,” said Helio about yesterday. “Lucas Chumbo always stands out, he surfs so loose it's amazing the lines he draws and how comfortable he feels. The local crew, Nic Von Rupp and João Macedo scored some perfect lefts by the end of the day when most of the teams were already at the harbour. It always pays off to stay a bit longer, you never know when the best ones come.”
The kicker? There's plenty more swell on the way too. A huge pulse will peak over night tonight, but we should see a few more days of surfing out at Nazare this week. Stay tuned.