As we posted yesterday, Andrew Cottie in on fire. He has his own web series, see the teaser above, he is racking up XXL awards nominations every other week and he has Jeremy Paxman on speed dial. We caught up with the part time plumber and full time hellman to let him talk us through that session at Nazare and the debate about just how big that wave was.
Tell us about the wave?
It was massive wasn’t it? It was really victory at sea conditions out there. I mean you look at the pictures and the wave kinda looks clean, but it was actually bumpy and horrible.
Talk us through the session itself?
It was really wild and wooly, but Garrett and I had a game plan where we would just stick to the biggest waves that broke furthest out. Back in October where were going for the more inside ones that broke into the rocks, or the lefts that work down the beach. However it’s pretty dangerous for rescues on those ones, as it is so chaotic inside. With the swell the way it was, we decided to stick to the outside rights that brake more into the channel.
Did you catch many other waves?
No. It was a three hour waiting game out there, as we were just trying to get the bigger ones. I was just lucky that the I caught actually broke. Garrett rode another one, it peaked up and then feathered, and the backed off, whereas mine broke.
Tell us about the wave itself?
Well, we saw it and Garrett said, “Do you want it?” And I was like, “Well that looks pretty big.” Out in the ocean though, it’s hard to tell just how big its going to be. In any case I wanted it and then Garrett put me in the perfect spot.
What is the perfect spot?
We were talking about it before we went out. Surfing Nazaré that big, well it’s not even really like surfing, it’s a whole different kettle of fish really. You can’t let go of the rope till you are half way down the face, as the swells are just moving that fast. So Garrett dropped me in mid face, going super fast and I was like, ‘fucking hell, here we go.’ I was going down it and then all of sudden I wasn’t going down it. I couldn’t reach the bottom. Even though I was hammering, but I just knew I was going to get mowed down.
Did you fall or did the foam catch you?
I hit a bit of chop and fell, but even as I fell the foam was right there about mowed me down. Either way I was going down.
What was the wipeout like?
Patagonia had given me one of their inflatable vests, so I just pulled the chord straight away. I wanted out of there I didn’t want to get pushed deep. So straight away I filled up like a beach balloon and pretty much came straight to the surface. The initial impact was heavy, but the actual wipeout wasn’t that bad, considering the size of the wave.
And was that the end of the session?
No we stayed for a few hours, Garrett rode one wave, but it don’t really break properly. Nothing else came through and it bordering on being unsurfable, so you have to weigh up the risks. In any case, the wind came up and it was like lets get out of here, this is stupid.
Was that biggest wave you have ridden out there?
Yes, that was the biggest wave I had surfed at Nazaré.
And do you think it was the biggest wave ever ridden?
Look it just seems that every week it’s reported that someone has ridden the biggest wave ever. It will probably happen again next week. I just ride the wave and though sometimes you read the comments and have to laugh, I’ll let the media and everyone else interested talk about all that.
There was waves all over Europe, are you happy with your choice to surf Nazaré?
It’s always a tough decision trying to work out where to go. I saw Ireland was perfect over the weekend and thinking just purely as a surfer, I was in Portugal for three days and rode one wave. Whereas over there, one of my favourite places in the world, there was 20 foot perfect slabs. So it’s hard. But Garrett called on the Friday and said he thought the wind was going to be okay and asked me to come. So that was all I needed really. It was a last minute decision and I was lucky I was in the right spot for that one wave.