It's no secret Nazare's been pumping. We've been running updates as and when sessions have been going down over the past six days. But there was nothing during the week that could top yesterday; a stunning crescendo, that, when the curtain dropped, ended with what many are calling 'the greatest paddle day ever' at Portugal's behemoth wave.
A session for the paddlers (or, a skim board, if you're Lucas Fink). 20-30ft bombs, depending who you talk to, ripping to shore from the same storm that set the rest of western Europe off earlier this week. But even at that size, Nazare can still dip a toe over the line between fiend and friend. But hey, what's a few broken boards when it's an all-time paddle party.
Your protagonists? Natxo Gonazalez (who bagged a wild-looking left), Twiggy (who put on paddle masterclass), Othmane Choufani, Cotty, Axi Muinian, Pedro Calado, 22-year-old Basque Country charger Tito Ortega, Joao Macedo and many more.
“One of, if not the best days I've paddled out there for sure,” said Twiggy, who has been stationed out at Nazare for this entire swell. “Big and super clean with beautiful A frame peaks. For once, the swell direction favoured the rights and they were roping off down the beach. Natxo Gonzalez and I surfed for nine hours. Swapping between doing safety on the ski.”
As for the board Twig had under him? “I was surfing the Pukas and Axel Lorentz 10'6” Twig model, 85 litres.”
As Twig mentioned, he teamed up with Basque Country charger, Natxo Gonzalez. Natxo's an easy spot in the water, always coming equipped with a black and white striped board, FYI. “That was the best paddle day I've seen in my whole life at Nazare," Natxo told MSW. "It was clean, perfect, offshore. It was pumping. 20-25ft, it was just unbelievable an amazing day. With Twiggy, we teamed up really well. We will remember this day for a long time. In 10-years time, we will say, 'you remember that day?' Maybe would need a little bit more west in the swell direction but it was the best, a 10/10 Nazare, the best I've seen in my whole life.
“I was riding the same board as I got a 10 point ride on, a 10'4” 83.45 litres, it's my magic board, shaped by Axel Lorentz.”
And Axi Muinian, a name we heard so much of a few seasons ago made his return to surfing this week. That's right, for the past seven months, Axi's actually been hiding away building a new Surf Centre in Zarautz, Spain (see HERE).
“Yeah we just paddled,” he said. “And after all that time not surfing, to find it again during the most epic week of paddling thatI remember, made me overflow with joy like never before. Obrigado Nazare!” And for the board Axi was on? An Axel Lorentz, Pukas, 10'4” 86 litre, not too dissimilar to Twig's.
“It's definitely been the best run of good waves at Nazare for some time,” said Andrew Cotton. “There's been a big crew towing but good to see the paddle guys absolutely sending it, haven't seen this many guys consistently paddling since the world tour paddle days. Great to see. I was surfing a 10'7” Rob Vaughn quad and a 9'6” Pukas Twig model, also a quad.”
“This whole week was like nothing we’ve seen in a while, for sure. Especially with everyone paddling – it was like, one of those sessions that makes us all want to go surfing. Super perfect,” said our Nazare omni-present lensman Helio Antonio, who had been shooting all week at Praia do Norte. Yesterday though, Helio went on a little mission for us. More on that soon, as in, Monday soon.
And Nazare didn't wind down totally yesterday, there was a smaller but stunning looking paddle session again today, for those who still had some juice in the tank.
Forecaster Jamie Bateman broke down the swell: “The large NATL storm that provided Western Europe with a solid, W/WNW swell through Sunday and Monday this week had another ace up its sleeve as it moved to higher latitudes.
“On Sunday it bumped head long into a cold air mass over Greenland which stalled the low around 200km off the west coast of Iceland. A narrow fetch of 40kts+ W/WNW wind, to the south of the storm’s centre, stayed there with it and persisted off the southern tip of Greenland for 36 hours sending a long-period WNW/NW swell toward Ireland, northern Spain and Portugal.
“This wasn’t a huge swell on paper, 7ft@17secs at its peak, as it arrived off the coast of Portugal Thursday morning, but it had that magic ingredient of a NW swell angle (314º-316º). The Nazare Canyon got to work on the long-period swell energy and produced 20ft+ classic A frame peaks that Nazare has become famous for. Another important ingredient that added to produce a classic day at the legendary big wave beach break was a high pressure centred just north of the Bay of Biscay meaning Portugal was blessed with light offshore, easterly wind all day.”