Imagine being a big wave surfer and having your very own XXL wave park? That’s pretty much what Gmac has had for the last few years at Nazare, but now the secret is now well and truly out. Along with Irishman Al Mennie, I’ve been really lucky to be involved in the Nazare Qualifica, North Canyon Show since 2010. Paddle, SUP and tow, it’s all gone down in XXL waves on Praia do Norte over the past few years, including a Guinness World Record.
I just couldn’t get my head round it at first; why is no one else here? There’s loads of world class surfers in Europe who love the big stuff, so where are they? It almost sounds like a bit of a joke; an Englishman, Irishman and Hawaiian tackle World Record Breaking waves in Portugal.
So of course Nazare is now well and truly on the big wave radar, but sometimes it needs a couple other stamps of approval before the rest of the surfing world seem to take it seriously.
Cue Dorian; possibly the gnarliest big wave paddle surfer in the world and his quiver of guns, add a bit of Billabong Adventure Division budget and you’ve pretty much got a Hollywood movie set. Big guns, shit loads of jet skis and a freaking helicopter. With that latest session, The Bong crew, Hugo Vau, Tom Butler, Sebastian Steudtner, Al Mennie and myself all paddled and supported each other.
Safety was the key, so every surfer also had a safety ski to pluck them out of harm’s way and to obviously get the surfers back out through the beachie when needed. Skis were beached and the usual carnage happened, and as expected Dorian got the wave of the day.
I’m pretty sure I had the best seat in the house for that wave as I was on the left hand side of the peak. He literally spun round his 11fter at the last second and did three paddles into that thing like it was two foot. The most interesting thing was that he managed to put the board on rail almost what seemed like before he even stood up. It was so good to see what’s possible in big waves and makes me really amped.
Whether its paddle or tow I just love riding waves. I suppose that what makes me a surfer and the reason I’ve pretty much dedicated my life to it. Cottie