Nazaré, Portugal: Depression Louis might have generated a new big wave surfing world record | Photo: Estrelinha/Praia do Norte

Depression Louis brought some of the largest swells of the decade to Portugal, Spain, and France, courtesy of the North Atlantic winter storms.

The extreme weather event raised national alerts and put big-wave surfers on hold on Europe's infamous XXL surf breaks.

Most storm-chasing fraternity converged in Praia do Norte, Nazaré, for another go at the Guinness World Record race.

The Portuguese underwater canyon has been the gold mine of many athletes and media professionals eager to ride and capture the sport's superlative stunts.

The Code Black swell brought a lot of wind, gusts, and heavy rain but also plenty of record-breaking opportunities for the usual suspects.

Three names in particular have been making a living in Nazaré in recent years: Lucas "Chumbo" Chianca, Sebastian Steudtner, and Rodrigo Koxa.

Whenever Praia do Norte fires its most brutal missiles, they're either strapped to their surfboard or towing someone into the massive avalanches of water.

The big wave surfing business has become a niche industry in the once quiet and picturesque fishing village.

Extreme surfers get the most out of the winter season the best way they can - free surfing or competing in events like the Nazaré Big Wave Challenge or the Gigantes de Nazaré.

The former is run by the World Surf League (WSL), and the latter by Brazil's TV Globo.

Gigantes de Nazaré is an invitational event that explores the monetization of online video content and broadcasting to large TV audiences.

Praia do Norte: the underwater canyon firing scary avalanches of heavy water | Photo: Estrelinha/Praia do Norte

A Potential New World Record

On Saturday, February 24, Nazaré witnessed the peak of Depression Louis, with the beach break detonating 80-foot plus (25-meter) walls of water.

Chianca and Steudtner had an informal duel in the heavy waters, with both the Brazilian and the German entertaining the audience at São Miguel Arcanjo fort and on the cliffs with some impressive runs.

They were towed into the biggest waves of the day by Ian Cosenza and Eric Rebiere.

Some say the current 86-foot (26.21 meters) world record wave has been broken, but no one dares to say by whom and on which wave.

The WSL officials will have the last word, using their fine-tuned wave height measuring method.

Once again, the safety rescue teams were busy driving jet skis around massive whitewater and backwash waves and taking their partners out of the impact zone.

The striking 360s and double backflips are becoming the playful standard for foot-strapped surfers descending long liquid slopes.

They're the signature tricks and bonus factor for the patient crowd watch from the safety of terra firma.

But surprises can happen, and throughout the week, as the swell's energy was building, other players emerged confident and audacious.

Lucas Fink, Balaram Stack, Eden Edwards, Alessandra Marinelli, Lourenço Katzenstein, Will Santana, Kalani Lattanzi, Michelle des Bouillons, Gabriel Sampaio, Manuel Fróis, and Vítor Faria also had their share of stoke.

They will definitely keep an eye out for when opportunity knocks.

The quest for the 100-foot wave is a work in progress, one that will require a flawless and rare combination of weather elements to take place.

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