It's no secret Nazare's been pumping. We've been running updates as and when sessions went down over the past few weeks, and it all culminated with “The Animal” on Monday, a heaving, heavy classically chaotic Nazare day – perhaps the biggest day of the season so far. But what's more remarkable is that it's been some time since we've seen a run of swell like this at Praia do Norte.
Monday was no doubt the highlight of this swell event – and all the pics you see throughout are from then, shot masterfully by our man on the ground Helio Antonio. Kai Lenny toying with colossal mounds of white water, Laird Hamilton foiling Nazare, Chumbo being Chumbo and Ian Walsh goes into survival mode as he guns it on one of the tallest waves of the season. It was an animal. Wild and wooly but also, spectacular.
WATCH: Nazare live HERE
Yesterday, the wind kicked up, surfers were in the water from the am to roughly midday when they packed up, tied Nazare up with a little ribbon and reflected on the past few days.
And what a time. This all started with Storm Ciara back on Feb 10, wound into the tow event a few days after, then a couplea days of playful Nazare (still 50ft+...) before Storm Dennis marched across the North Atlantic and gave it all a big shake up, before he eventually went out with a whimper.
Now, if you're looking for a breakdown of the storms, MSW forecaster Tony Butt penned a wonderful piece yesterday about the conditions, and a comparison with Ciara, Dennis and 2014's Hercules. That storms happen shouldn't be a surprise, but to get the conditions we've had for the past 10 days is quite something and Tony's analysis lays it all out. You can read that HERE.
Want to see those huge Nazare waves? When to go, HERE
As for the past 10 days? “Kai Lenny, Lucas Chumbo, Ian Walsh and Laird Hamilton head home tomorrow on what was one of the most spectacular swell events in history,” writes big wave documentarian Tim Bonyton. “There's still one more day to go before the Atlantic ocean takes a well earned rest. Thank god for that. Im running out of hard drives.”
And about Monday's mega session? “I called one of the most exciting days shooting big wave surfing. It was definitely one of the biggest but by far the most dangerous. Things on the inside could of gone so bad and almost did. The size of the waves were anything around the 50 to 80 feet with a gusty north wind around 25 knots.” Head over to Tim's Instagram account for more.
Wrapping this event up, Tony says: “The last couple of weeks in the North Atlantic have been, let’s say, fairly active. A continuous stream of deep low pressures have brought storm-force winds, torrential rain and flooding over Britain and Ireland, and, of course, giant swells to west and southwest-facing spots, with wave heights barely dropping below ten feet.
“You might be wondering if there is a root cause for these intense storms; something that perhaps triggered off a chain of events that led to favourable conditions.
Certainly one of the things we can trace it back to is the behaviour of the upper airstream – the jetstream. This is largely responsible for the steering and intensification of surface low pressure systems. Basically, a strong, meanderless jet means a lot of energy which filters down to the surface and helps to fuel those lows.”
“In the long-term, things could have went either way,” says Tony about making the call. “Some models were showing a meander beginning to form in the upper airstream last week, while others showed a continuation of fluid conditions.”
But as evidenced throughout, it all became epic in the end and perhaps the swell event of the past few years.
If you want a bit of a recap about the recent Nazare sessions, the first from these incredible few days as Ciara hit, is HERE. And then the Dennis sessions from over the weekend is HERE. See our swell alerts for Ciara HERE and for Valentine's Day/Dennis HERE.