New Year's Day is usually a time for quiet reflection, and possible regret, about the antics of the evening before. But Nazare doesn't care about hangovers, and sure as hell isn't going to wait around for anyone while delivering raw power to the shores of Praia do Norte.
So while you may have been nursing a start to 2018, a crew of international chargers were laying waste to the behemoth that is Portugal's infamous wave on January 1. Lucas Chumbo, Tom Lowe, Justine DuPont, Jamie Mitchell, Nic Von Rupp, Sebastian Studner and Hugo Vau just some of the names who were up to the challenge on what could be the swell of the season.
But there's been a few solid days from this run of swell at Nazare. Kicking off on December 30th, then NYD and a few picking off the leftovers yesterday. A system ripping across the North Atlantic has been generating a hefty swell, capping in the 15ft@15 seconds mark, coupled with gentle southerly winds, grooming those voluminous peaks into solid, chargeable conditions.
Brazilian Lucas Chumbo nailed one of the more evil looking Nazare bombs on the 30th and New Year's Day. “It was an awesome session,” he tells MSW. “A great way to start the year. The swell was pretty good, a big day with a couplea bombs. Had the chance to get a really good wave, a 50 foot face. Rafael Tapia whipped me and then I towed him. Looking forward to the next swell.”
As Basque Country warrior, Axi Muniain, managed to snag the wave of the session: “The swell of day 1 [Dec 30] was special. Made a team with Sebastian and Maya, couplea big bombs coming through. Reading the ocean is the hardest challenge at Nazare.
“I lost a giant one...I was trying to make a turn to cross the peak from the right to the left, but mid-turn, I fell and lost my biggest wave [laughs]. Comparing to the swell in November, it was a little more paddleable in the beginning, the other one was gigantic pyramids with less wall, maybe. This one was rolling with more wall.”
Jamie Mitchell, winner of the WSL's inaugural Nazare Big Wave Event, made the trip over for this run of swell. After taking a spill on the morning of the 30th, Jamie told us: “As always it was a challenging day. A fair bit of current was running though the lineup and it felt like it had morning sickness that never went away. Wasn’t the cleanest swell, but there were some moments. saw Tom Lowe and Alex Botello get a nice wave each.”
On the ground for New Year's Day was lensman Rafael Riancho, who said: “The session lived up to the expectations of the forecast. Everyone was in form; Lucas Chumbo, Mick Corbett, Jarryd Foster, Francisco Porcella, Marcello Luna, Jerome Sahyoun and Ross Clarke-Jones, as well as Nazaré's usual chargers such as Sebastian Steudtner and Axi Muniain and the ever present Justine Dupont with Fred David, were the standouts charging. The morning saw great waves but maybe not the biggest in terms of maximum Praia do Norte. A great start to the year without a doubt.”
Looking at the current conditions, and there's still plenty of energy for Praia do Norte, though coupled with stronger N and NW winds. Speaking of the 30th, Tom Lowe added: “Waves were smaller than we thought that first day [30th]. But there were some perfect ones between the rips. 15-20ft sets, not so big by Nazare standards.
"I got a few fun ones just a clean left, medium size. Alex [Botelho] got a sick right. The tow day was pretty wild, like always."
On New Year's Day, Andre Botelho was primed to capture the action. His take on it? “Giant day, the best day this season. The session started around at 8am, with the principal surfers Ross Clarke-Jones, Mick Corbett, Marcelo Luna, Lucas Chumbo, Rafael Tapia, Justine Dupont, Sebastian Steudtner, Axi Muniain for the first sweet swell of the year. These surfers charged the bests waves of the day.”