Winter has officially wound down in Europe, paving the way for those spring swells - and we're still all hoping for a little bit of pep in the forecast to round off an active few months.
And oh, it's been a hell of a season for Nazare. Dozens of moments that will mark the winter of 2017/2018 as nigh on remarkable. Remember Cotty's horror fall back in November? How could you forget! Or Rodrigo Koxa potentially riding one of the largest waves in the world? It was as dynamic as it was captivating – all eyes focussed on Praia do Norte when those numbers start to blip off the rugged Portugese coastline.
With every swell that reared up, Helio Antonio, and a raft of other lensmen, have been capturing (with incredible poise) all the action that went down at Portugal's mountain of a wave for MSW. Nazare is a chaotic symphony. And right here we've honed in on the top moments from the past few months at one of big wave surfing's favourite amphitheatres. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments – and post what you think.
Rodrigo Koxa – Biggest Wave at Nazare?
Back on November 8, right as the season was getting ready to kick start, Rodrigo Koxa pulled into this colossal Nazare bomb – with some claiming it as the biggest wave ever to be surfed out there – or of all time for that matter. The jury's still out. At the time, this flew under the radar, due to it happening in the same session Cotty got mowed.
Andrew Cotton's Best/Worst Wipeout of all Time
By now, you know this story. Cotty faded on a gigantic wave, got clipped, detonated, bouncing his way down that huge wave face. Back broken, Cotty was kind enough to lend MSW a few moments on the phone. “I pulled up over a lump. I knew it wasn't going to barrel or that I wasn't going to out run it, so I just hit the eject button and thought, fuck, I gotta get out of this. Then a whole world of pain happened,” he told us. Cotty's recovering and the video is worth of repeating.
Benjamin Sanches' Ride of a Lifetime
Remember Sancho's ride back in January? Launching into 2018, it was speculated as one of the largest of all time, maybe even topping Rodrigo's efforts from a few months before. For Sancho? Just another day in the office.
Sebastian Steudtner Hucks into This Monster
This took place during the same session as Sancho's wave. Sebastian Steudtner's an aficionado when it comes to tall waves, single-handedly taking German big wave surfing and propelling it into the spotlight. He's been chasing swells hard at Nazare this season – and if this is anything to go by, he's just getting warmed up.
Hugo Vau and the Scale of Nazare
PROUD OF YOU VAU!!! Today i saw probably the biggest wave surfed at nazaré by @hugovau on the biggest swell ever! @hugovau team up with @alex_botelho and @marcelolunaoficial ... hard conditions but perseverance from this amazing Portuguese team was speechless! We stay, we seat, and big mama came! Jesus call and Alex with an amazing drive put Hugo on the bomb!!! I’m felling so proud of @hugo and @alex_botelho as a team!...
If there's ever a cut of Nazare that pays homage to sheer scale, to velocity, to the hulking voluminous liquid mountain that personifies it, it is right here. In the mist of this shot, Hugo Vau's on this wave. And it is a monster. A true tribute to everything Praia do Norte can throw up.
Axi Muiniain's Crazy Run
Axi's another who is putting in the hours at Nazare. This wave made us stop at MSW HQ, that wave face looks formidable. Of this wave, Sebastian Steudtner relayed: “Axi Muniain got a bomb at the end of the session, he is one of the guys that is always happy and frothing about everything, good dude.” Can't take much more away than that.
Ross Clarke-Jones' Time in the Death Zone
And oh, did this make your heart pound right through your chest? Tonnes of experience in the heavy stuff, Ross Clarke-Jones ain't no slouch when it comes to getting out of these types situations. It's all that experience that saved him after being washed into that Nazare death zone. All smiles upon exit. Heavy doesn't quite cut it.
Maya Gabeira's Biggest Ever Wave?
Could it be one of the largest waves surfed by a woman at Nazare? The largest ever surfed by a female full-stop? Maya's come a long way since her almost fatal incident at Nazare a few years back. Gabeira's undoubtedly the queen of Praia do Norte, unafraid and charging.
Lucas Chumbo being Lucas Chumbo
This kid surfs with so much heart and won't hesitate to whip into, well, just about anything. Winning the Nazare Challenge, albeit in sub par conditions, made a huge impact on the Brazilian, putting the spurs in to launch a campaign for that Big Wave Tour title. But when he's not winning contests, he's pulling into behemoths like this on a regular occasion.
Bonus: This. Mind. Blowing. Image
If ever an image summed up scale, power, velocity, difficulty at Nazare, it's this image. Helio Antonio is the master when it comes to shooting liquid mountains. This photograph is, simply, jaw dropping. And if you want more from Helio, slide on over to his Insty, right HERE.