Praia do Norte, Nazaré: is that a building or a wave?

On the 28th January 2013, a giant swell hit Nazaré, in Portugal, again. The local canyon delivered one of the largest swells of the 21st century. Is it big enough for you?


Forget what you've read and watched online about Nazaré. Critics of the Western European wave have been spreading tales about the exaggerated power and size of these waves, but many haven't tasted it yet.

Praia do Norte gets a special type of swell due to a geomorphologic accident in the deep bottom of the local coast. These waves are different and when they reach new heights, there are no arms for it. Just motor power.

The last days of January 2013 will be kept in the memory of many surfers, jet ski pilots, locals and media. Big waves blasted the rocks and sands of Praia do Norte and quickly spread throughout the world.

Garrett McNamara, António Silva, Kealii Mamala and Axi Muniain decided to give it a go. The Nazaré waves are different, when they're really big. The initial phase of the ride is slow and almost horizontal.

After getting towed-in, McNamara and friends almost lose the wave, at times. Then, they accelerate and trim the optimal wave line to avoid dangerous wipe-outs and unwanted early kick-outs.

In a matter of moments, the Nazaré wave gets really steep and deadly. Chances of getting hurt are high and the rocky cliffs add extra drama to the challenge. This is big wave surfing. To talk about Nazaré, you should at least visit it.