This was always going to be a session filled with nuance. A few days before this swell pulsed into Nazare, the charts blipped up with something monstrous. Yet, with all things Praia do Norte, there always seems to be a caveat holding back its full potential.
Yesterday's tow-only session was no exception. It was never going to be all-time, not that classic Nazare tee-pee shape because the swell was too west. And Nazare loves a solid pulse to have north in it, in order to better hit the canyon, which will then help jack Portugal's premier big wave behemoth in to the realms of beyond mere mortals.
And while the swell was certainly in the water, what transpired was an XL session – still full of chaos, still full of a group of the world's best hellmen (and women) hucking into something that the rest of us would turn tail at. But it also lets the imagination run wild.
What if that swell did have a few more degrees in it? What if the wind and size and tide all tallied up? This is Nazare and rolling the dice is part and parcel to the whole experience, whether you've made the journey to gawk from the safety of the cliff, amidst the promise of seeing something colossal, or you're pulling on an inflatable and scrambling out to sea - it is a range of whirring emotions at all times and the caveats are always many.
Hell, try telling Sebastian Steudtner, who ended up taking a horror fall yesterday and needed shifting out to hospital, couplea stitches on an impressive looking scar across his forehead, that this session was lacklustre. Tell that to his safety team running point.
On the ground was lensman Vitor Estrelinha, who said: “ The inside was very complicated, which caused some accidents. I saw one of the skis almost get destroyed as it went straight to the beach with Joao Macedo, it was heavy. Sebastian took a nasty fall behind a wave and hit his head on his board.”
While we've briefly gone over just what this colossal swell was, and meant, let's really break down what happened here. The tee-peeing peak of Nazare needs serious refraction out of the canyon and constructive wave interference –essentially when two waves join together to form a bigger wave - to make record-breaking waves. With the west swell hitting on Sunday, it was not ideal to create this effect. But, if the swell angled in more from the north, then we may have got something remarkable.
MSW forecaster Tony Butt breaks down the mechanics of XXL or record breaking Nazare: “More extreme refraction on northwest swells mean that relatively small offshore wave heights can sometimes produce gigantic A-frame peaks. In contrast, west swells approach the coastline more square-on, resulting in less extreme refraction."
Remember, keep an eye on the forecast and charts by going HERE.