Portuguese big wave surfer Alex Botelho nearly lost his life after being involved in a serious incident in the impact zone at Praia do Norte.
The breathtaking moment took place ten minutes before the end of the 2020 Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge, held in Portugal.
Hugo Vau, Botelho's teammate, was driving the jet ski toward the beach to rescue his partner but got clipped by a huge shore break wave on the inside.
The two athletes and the jet ski were thrown 20 feet in the air.
Alex was knocked on the head by the ski, got pounded by a set wave, and nearly drowned. He was found floating head down in the whitewater.
"When I finally got to him, Alex was already drowning. When I realized he was not okay, I jumped off the jet ski, and tried to keep him next to me," explained Edílson Assunção, also known as "Alemão de Maresias."
"Sérgio tried to pick me and get Alex on the sled, but it was not possible. So, I got pounded kept losing Alex because he is a big and heavy guy. Fortunately, we were able to get to the inside and then to the beach."
Minutes of Despair
After being rescued by the Water Safety Team, the paramedics spent several minutes trying to revive the athlete.
On the beach, there were people with their heads on the head in despair, and hundreds of thousands online praying for a good outcome.
When Botelho regained his consciousness, he was rushed to a nearby hospital.
"Fortunately, we have a very well-prepared team here at the beach. Today, we were put to the test. It was almost a ridiculous situation - Alex was hit by a 300-kilogram personal watercraft, and the outcome could've been tragic," adds Assunção.
The Portuguese surfer is currently in stable condition, conscious and will continue to undergo observation and medical examination.
"I got a 00:30 am update from the orthopedist who was taking care of Hugo Vau, and the internist who is taking care of Alex Botelho. I can confirm that Vau has not broken his leg. He will be released from the hospital today," said Walter Chicharro, mayor of Nazaré.
"As for Alex Botelho, there's good news, even though he requires extra care and control. Alex is now breathing without any artificial aid, and he is perfectly conscious. Doctors confirmed that there's still water in his lungs."
It was a serious day of surfing at Nazare, and we all wish him a full and speedy recovery. One of his best friends is still in shock.
"Today, I was confronted with the reality of our sport. It was heartbreaking watching my brother Alex Botelho between life and death, right in front of the eyes of the world," wrote Nic Von Rupp.
"Honestly, very few would have survived - only a beast of a human like Alex to pull it through. Not only because of the strong human he is but mostly for the love many people have for him. It was one of the worst days of my life."