Nazaré: the home of the new Big Wave Grand Prix | Photo: Red Bull

There is a new extreme surfing competition kicking off in Nazaré, Portugal. It's the Big Wave Grand Prix.

November 1, 2011, is a day that the small Portuguese fishing village of Nazaré and its population will never forget.

Garrett McNamara, 44 at the time, rode a 78-foot (23.7-meter) wall of water that was soon making headlines all over the world.

Since then, Nazaré and its infamous Praia do Norte were never the same.

The surf industry landed in the exquisite coastal community, changed its economy, and started all sorts of surf-related businesses.

Big wave riding might be a subdiscipline of surfing, but it is also a gold mine that attracts people from all over the world.

The business is content monetization (publishers) and brand reputation and awareness (companies).

The number of sports events and specialty projects running simultaneously in Nazaré is surprising for a once-peaceful town.

Until 2024, there were at least three entities holding events in the European wave: the World Surf League (WSL), the Big Wave Challenge, and the Gigantes de Nazaré.

Now, there's a fourth contest. It's called the Big Wave Grand Prix.

Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal: a gold mine for content creators | Photo: Red Bull

Scoring Entertainment Value and Social Impact

The Big Wave Grand Prix is an online platform that highlights and distinguishes big-wave surfers' best yearly performances.

It allows the public to monitor their achievements and vote on their favorites.

Daniel Krattinger and Katarina Patek Ghidirmic created the new event, which will start in the 2024/2025 season.

Krattinger, a 47-year-old with Swiss and Brazilian roots, has a background in water and adventure sports, including mountain biking and paragliding.

He began snowboarding and skating in 1982, and by 1989, he had picked up windsurfing and sailing.

He started kitesurfing in 1997, but his passion for surfing, which began in 1991, ultimately led him to move to Nazaré in 2023 to pursue the largest wave of his life.

Ghidirmic is originally from Bratislava, Slovakia. She is a passionate photographer and videographer who visited Nazaré for the first time in 2021 and was captivated by the town and the big-wave surfing scene.

The duo promises a new paradigm for the new competition - or, as they prefer to call it, an "entertainment award system."

"In recognition that surfers are providing entertainment value, Big Wave Grand Prix evaluates the surfers throughout the season based on several criteria that are unique to our platform," the team notes.

"We look not only at performance in the water but also at the surfer's relationship with nature and the surrounding community."

"​Through this surfer-owned and surfer-operated platform, the community and visitors become engaged in tracking the performances of their favorite surfers."

"Essentially, we score the entertainment value provided by the surfers as well as their impact on the local community. Performance is only one factor that distinguishes the award of final season prizes."

Big Wave Grand Prix features a balanced roster of male and female surfers and equal compensation regardless of gender.

Eric Rebiere, Joana Andrade, Kalani Lattanzi, Michelle des Bouillons, Lucas Fink, Michaela Fregonese, Nic Lamb, Hermine Bonvallet, Rodrigo Koxa, Polly Ralda, Tony Laureano are some of the names lined up for the new competition.

Big Wave Grand Prix runs over a three-month period when waves exceed 20 feet (6 meters).

Nazaré: the winter home of the surf industry | Photo: Red Bull

Nazaré Film Award

Daniel and Katarina are also putting up the Nazaré Film Award, an event that recognizes the most creative filmmakers.

The organization challenges creators to produce three-minute movies that showcase and blend surfers taking on the Nazaré's massive mountains of water with local traditions.

The short surf films will compete for six awards:

  • Outstanding achievement;
  • Exceptional rescue efforts;
  • Culinary excellence;
  • Environmental awareness;
  • Cultural impact;
  • Community involvement;

The winner of the best documentary film will be announced at a ceremony at the end of the season.


Words by Luís MP | Founder of SurferToday.com

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