Stab Magazine | The Most Dangerous Big Wave Event In The World Is Back

The Most Dangerous Big Wave Event In The World Is Back

And the Green Light goes to: The Nazaré Challenge! (But not everyone’s punching the gas to get there.)

news // Feb 8, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Yesterday, with news hot off the World Surf League Press Release Media Machine, the words “Nazaré could run” came across Inboxes everywhere. 

We thought, shouldn’t it already have?

But, the most recent swells were really fucking big; like too big for the Big Wave Tour big. 

Today, another WSLPRMM message beamed in our inbox. This time, the word “will” hyper-imposed across the top of our screens in letters almost as big and bold as the last swell at Nazaré. It’s official–or at least greenlit–your favorite non-barreling-water-mountain-slalom-of-death-boarding-challenge is back on!

“Praia do Norte (North Beach), a break notorious for its powerful waves and dangerous whitewater speeds, has seen monstrous waves this season and now event organizers are tracking conditions favorable enough to run the highly-anticipated competition,” states the WSL’s Press Release.

In January, Nazaré had larger sizes than Here Benjamin Sanchez tries on an ill-fitting Portuguese garment.

Let’s reminisce about the last time Nazaré ran.

The thing about Big Wave events, for viewers, is if there’s no barrel, they don’t thrill.

Nazaré’s a different affair, however. In the unruly mess that is the Matterhorn of surfing, there are deadly consequences. And, simply put, watching men hurl over ledges, airdrop down faces and tumble across waves that defy comprehension is great viewing. For some reason, watching anyone do anything that may kill them makes for compelling entertainment. Chock it up to ancient Roman bloodthirst.

And, last year, to the viewer’s odd yet innate pleasure, the event was full of injuries and heroics.

Following the Challenge, big wave world number one, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, took to social media stating he would not return to the venue to compete.

“Nazare as a wave is a phenom, as challenging and beautiful as any big wave I’ve surfed, but the dangers involved seem to outweigh the rewards. Those 20 minutes during each heat, on the back of a ski, holding on with all your strength while jumping 10-foot foamies, were some of the most terrifying experiences of my life and something I can’t see myself repeating,” he wrote.

By the end of the event, the carnage piled up like a hideous car wreck. Nic Lamb was concussed, Tom Butler went to the hospital with suspected water in his lungs, Damien Hobgood’s livelihood was nearly ended after a jetski manned by fellow big wave surfer, Garret McNamara, was forced to hit the eject button at the apex of a wave with Mr Hobgood white-knuckling on the back. In the less grave incidents, Aaron Gold hurt his hand and Joao de Macedo left with a Pacquiao-esque shiner.

According to the BWWT Commish, Mike Parsons, here’s what to expect on Saturday.

“We are excited about what we are seeing at Nazaré,” says Parsons. “We are calling the WSL Nazaré Challenge ON for this Saturday, February 10. With a solid swell coming from the NW, we are looking at around 9-to-12 feet of deepwater swell that will translate to 25-to-35 foot faces by mid-morning and potentially pushing 40 feet later in the day. There is potential that the winds might come up when we run, so we plan to start early in the morning and finish before it comes up too high.”

The questions remain: Will this year be an uneventful tapered boardsliding competition? Or an absolute bloodbath?


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