A few visions of XXL Nazare dropped over a dodgy mobile internet connection by Tó Mané and José Pedro Gomes. It was a truly massive swell and here we have a brief wrap of our live(ish) coverage. Expect to see a lot more from this swell as the bones are picked over.
In the water we had: Benjamin Sanchis, Andrew Cotton, Hugo Vau, Antonio Silva, Garrett McNamara, Rodrigo Koxa, Sylvio Mancusi, Tom Butler, Sebastian Steudner, Eric Rebiere and Ross Clarke Jones. Plus I'm sure others we have missed thus far.
Word filtered out initially that the swell was bang on the forecast, meaning big and very dangerous crossed-up peaks shaking the spectator packed cliffs. Maximum heights from a buoy north of Nazare were reading 41ft out to sea, well before the local constructive interference which jacks up the size even more, so we are talking a size of... large.
Before this swell Andrew Cotton laughingly pointed that he expected this swell to be the biggest swell of the year – for the third time in a row. And big wave surfers are always seeking size, obviously, but claims of "biggest ever" well, they are like that boy who cried wolf, everyone stops listening.
When asked about how this swell fitted in his bookcase of Nazare swells, Cotty replied: "I'm just starting to understand how the canyon affects the swells from each direction combined with period etc. Today will go into the top five sessions for size, maybe even top three, but it's hard to know actually how big it is, there was a couple sets what were possibly the biggest mountains of water I've ever seen."
When asked the same question Tom Butler, who spent the day as a driver whipping Sebastian Steudner and Sylvio Mancusi into bombs was unequivocal: "By far the biggest session this year, you could tell that by how far out it was breaking. It 2km off the lighthouse at low tide. Sylvio had come all the way from Brazil and deserved a good stint on the rope and I was happy to drive as every session I improve my skills and knowledge."
Interestingly in another round of Nazare red safety tape – and unique to here – surfers now have to operate in a rotating team of three: two skis to one surfer. "It is a good system" says Tom, knowing only too well the violence that the washing machine inside can dish up. Seeing as he's planning on paddling the more manageable swell tomorrow (Friday), he was happy to drive all day and will be owed a patient support crew.
For Eric Rebiere a couple of waves today was quite enough on a day he said he saw the biggest waves he's ever seen, opting after that to tow partner Benjamin Sanchis. "They were for sure the largest waves I've seen." He told us. "Bigger than when Maya almost drowned, there were some crazy double-ups." Eric has been concentrating on his new surf school at Coruña and wanted to get back there in one piece.
Towing partner Ben Sancho, the duo went for a glorious top-to-bottom double-up on the inside. "Sancho almost got barrelled but we lost the board after the pick-up." Eric remembers "The craziest part of Nazare is the middle where it really can drown you and getting back into the lineup after that took a long time. It was windy when we returned and after another crazy aggressive double-up from Sancho, in which I thought he could die, because I lost him at the pick-up, finished our day."
If you can ID surfers, let us know... Magnifying glass anyone?
All images from Tó Mané and the team.