Nazaré Big Waves News

A tourist's journey in Nazaré

Facing the biggest waves in the world

A tourist's journey in Nazaré

My tourist experience in Nazaré, facing the biggest waves in the world.

I have always had a contradictory feeling about waves: being a surfer, I am both very attracted to them, and at the same time, I feel a kind of unconscious fear when I am facing big waves.
My motto has always been to conquer fear with fear and I have reorganized my life, especially for the past 2 years, so that I can have the freedom to live my passions, conquer my fears and make all my dreams come true. Nazaré and its giant waves were at the top of my list.

Last year I watched, like many people, the Nazaré Tow In Challenge competition live, promising myself that whatever happens I will experience it for real next year.

Friday December 10th I log on to facebook and I see a new post from the news site: Nazaré is on alert and the competition should take place on Sunday or Monday.
My professional appointments for Monday the 13th are postponed, my son is with his dad. It sounds good. I live in the south of France, I look at plane tickets to go to Lisbon: I have the choice, Saturday or Sunday. I am a spontaneous person who likes to go with the flow. I'll decide tomorrow.

Saturday December 11: new post from NazareWaves: the competition is confirmed. It will take place on Sunday 12 December. I can take off on Saturday afternoon but my intuition tells me to leave on Sunday. I buy my plane ticket for Sunday when the competition is confirmed for Sunday morning 8am. I am supposed to arrive at 5 p.m. in Nazaré. On Saturday night when I go to bed I realize that I am taking the risk of missing the whole competition. Fortunately I have learned to trust myself.

On Sunday morning, I wake up early, and connect to the NazareWaves site to see the webcams. There is fog. Every hour, the competition is delayed until it is postponed to the next day. Next call, Monday Dec 13, 8am. I think of all the people who came out on Sunday to see the competition… but I can't help but feel relieved.
Sunday 4 p.m., I arrive at Lisbon airport, I jump in an uber to reach Nazaré. Every second that passes brings me closer to this special city.
Finally arriving in Nazaré, I am marked by the atmosphere of this port city. Nazaré is famous for its traditions in the arts of fishing and for its giant waves. In the streets, you can hear several languages ​​being spoken, the children play with their skateboards in the central square by the beach and I meet Kai Lenny at the restaurant.
In the evening when I go to bed, I have a good feeling; I know that the best things in life happen when they are not planned.

Monday December 13: D Day.

I wake up in the same state as a child in front of a Christmas tree full of gifts. I walk to the Nazaré funicular to reach Praia do Norte. From above, the view is spectacular. The atmosphere is incredible: there is an unruffled calm that seems to resist the footsteps of the hundreds of people who walk towards the Nazaré lighthouse to witness the show. After 10 minutes of walking, I finally arrived at the Tow In Challenge contest site.

The encounter:
The conditions are perfect: good weather, no more fog, no wind.
There she is, this incredible wave stands in front of us, growing more and more. How tall will she grow? Magnificent forces of nature are at play just in front of us: giant waves crashing onto the shore, making the lighthouse and us look so small.

The first thing that surprises me, beyond its size, is the noise when she breaks. She is beautiful, impressive and captivating. I can't help but laugh… I can't believe it, it’s so unrealistic.
The jet skis invade the surf spot and tow the pro surfers. These waves are so big that even the most trained surfers cannot safely paddle them. The forecasts this morning disappoint the pro surfers who made the trip: between 8 and 10m, only. Well, you have to know that the wave of Nazaré can sometimes exceed 20m thanks to the canyon of Nazaré (an underwater canyon about 5,000 m deep and 230 km long) which multiplies by 3 the size of the expected swell.

After seeing Kai Lenny, Lucas Chumbo, Francisco Porcella, Justine Dupont, Michelle Dos Bouillons surf these mountains of water, I decided to get closer… I have to go see these waves up close.
I head to the marina, where the jet ski surfers depart.
Thanks to a happy combination of circumstances and a little audacity, I embark on the NazareWaterFun Taruk boat which is part of the organization.
At noon we leave the marina to reach peak number 1 of Nazaré by boat. Waves reach maximum forecast size. We slalom in a 10m swell in complete safety. The feeling is incredible and very impressive. Seeing these walls of water rise up before us confronts us with contradictory sensations: a mix of fear and excitement.

The boat is positioned right next to the peak and we see the surfers towed by the jet skis let go of the rope and dance on the waves. We are at the heart of the action. It's amazing to be there and to experience this.

1h30 later, the competition ends. It is time to return to the port, accompanied by the surfers leaving the water. We interact with them throughout the journey and at the marina. It's just us and them.

I barely realize what just happened. The feeling of being on such big waves remains imprinted in my body, in my head. I feel so stoked.

I decide to return to the lighthouse to see the free surfers in action and recover from my emotions. I then head to the Red Bull WareHouse for the awards ceremony.

It takes place very easily with the organizing team, the sponsors, the press and the surfers' relatives.

That's it, but I still have one more day to spend in Nazaré and I want to take the opportunity to be as close to the waves as possible. It seems that I am becoming addicted ;)

The next day, I embark on a jet ski with Michelle des Bouillons, one of the few women to tame the waves of Nazaré. Michelle is sunny, inspiring and so nice. She takes me on her jet ski and off we go to the heart of the waves of Praia do Norte. The waves are about 5-6m.

I’m not going to surf them but I’ll have some incredible sensations with Michelle, who drives us to the most exciting spot in the water. We are on these giant waves, we get sprayed, we touch them. This is unbelievable!

I return to the marina with only one idea in mind, to get back to Nazaré as quickly as possible and as a true ocean’s lover, keep protecting them. But for now, I am heading south to surf in Costa Caparica.

Thank you to all the people who crossed my path and who made this adventure a unique experience: Kai, Lucas, Michelle, Justine, Juliana, Lino, Michael, André, Gonçalo…


Text by Marina V.
Instagram : marina_vassrach

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