Is Praia do Norte, Nazaré, becoming the new “Meca” of big wave surfing? For decades the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, was the only place where reputations were built among big wave surfers.
But in the past 20 years the spectrum increased when other big wave spots like Maverick and Todos Santos in California, as well as Chile, South Africa and some heavy wave spots, like Teahupoo, Shipsterns Bluff, Dungeons and more started gaining coverage and status.
And then there was Nazaré…
Rumors of giant waves in a village most well know for its fishing port had been going around for a long time but it had yet to be tested by legit big wave surfers. Everything changed when Hawaiian big wave rider Garrett McNamara was invited over and spent some time in Portugal, eventually confirming to the Surfing World that Nazaré had indeed some of the biggest rideable waves on the planet.
Recently a WSL Big Wave Tour event was held at Nazaré as well and it helped further legitimizing the status and notoriety of the wave. Many of the competitors, and other big wave riders, staid around to enjoy the amazing consistency of the wave, since it kept breaking for weeks!
The result of the prolonged stay by many big wave “maniacs” was that the WSL Big Wave Awards was flooded with entries from Nazaré. In fact, the Portuguese wave is almost completely dominating the prestigious event. It could be argued that the “Billabong Ride of the Year” category at the WSL Big Wave Awards is the most important and the submissions from Nazaré completely dominate the chart, with 22 entries, more than the next two “contestants” combined. In the “XXL Biggest Wave” the disproportion is even more impressing, with 125 submissions against a total of 20 from all the other big wave spots around the world. Also in the “Wipeout” category, Nazaré leads, with 4 entries, making the portuguese big wave location a clear stand out among new and more traditional big wave locations.
(Sebastian Steudner in one of the most recent Nazaré entries at the WSL Big Wave Awards)