July 9, 2016 was one of those days when it all comes together. A rarely surfed slab in Niteroi, Brazil that goes by the name of Shock pumped out an all-time session. Haven't heard of it? Then read on...
Scoring slabs can be a fickle business. As much as your usual sandbottom breaks or reefs require the right swell direction, the right wind direction and the right tides to function at their peak, there's often room for leeway. When you're hunting a mutant that only breaks when gifted certain numbers and it's crashing over and in front of lumps of rock, local knowledge and experience are paramount in picking your time to strike.
"Earlier that week, I could see that a good swell was coming," said local guru, Bruninho Santos." On Friday, a storm was set to hit and it seemed that Saturday 9th would be perfect for Shock — very light winds and a drying tide."
"If Bruninho is saying it will be good, there’s no way it won’t be," said photographer, Marcos Base. On Bruninho's call, the crew assembled. Four photographers: Cesinha Feliciano, Marcos Base, Matheus Couto and Lucca Biot. And seven surfers: Eric de Souza, Raoni Monteiro, Marcelo Trekinho, Daniel Cabeção Rangel, Felipe "Gordo" Cesarano, Paulo Curi and Bruno Santos himself.
"We all spent the night before suffering from insomnia, anxious and excited for the next day," recalled Marcos. "When we awoke after a short sleep, Bruninho’s predictions came true: sunny, offshore, 6-8ft and glassy. Perfect."
With four lensmen on hand, capturing every angle of the session about to go down was the aim. Marcos and Cesinha would shoot from the rocks while the two 18 year-olds, Lucca and Matheus swam the channel. The first wave of the day, went to Daniel "Bighead" Rangel who'd just returned to Brazil after 12 years in Hawaii and boy, was it a bomb. "I dont like to watch the waves before surfing them because of the risk of being afraid after that," said Daniel. A tactic we can't argue with. See above.
It's one of the most intense and heavy waves I’ve ever surfed.
Next up was the turn of ex Championship Tour competitor Raoni Monteiro, who was yet to experience the tubular terror of Shock. "It's one of the most intense and heavy waves I’ve ever surfed," exclaimed Raoni. "It breaks into a very shallow reef, creating something that looks like a speed bump. But the vibe of surfing that wave with childhood friends — everyone screaming in the channel made it a memorable day that'll never be forgotten."
Whilst vying for potentially all-time tunnels, it could be easy to forget the dangers. Pumped on adrenaline and pushed by your best mates you can forget the consequences of a rash choice or misplaced foot.
“There are a lot of rocks down there,” warns Eric. “From the spot that people watch you can't really have an idea of what it’s like, but there are rocks all the way around so it's hard even to make the rescue by jet ski. It was a mind-blowing session though. I hope I can go there again."
This arena of rock can also cause problems elsewhere however — before you've even made it under the hood, keep your eyes open for that sidewash. "It's a very heavy wave with an unbelievably thick lip but it's the side backwash that can be deadly," claimed Marcelo Trekinho. "Most wipeouts are because of this lateral wave."
I ended up pinned on my back on the reef but luckily I came back up fast.
It was Paulinho Curi who took wipeout of the day honours though. "I went down on the reef and confirmed that there really are shellfish on the bottom. I thought at first I was on a good one, but suddenly it sucked out all the water and I went automatically to the trench. I ended up pinned on my back on the reef but luckily I came back up fast."
Fortunately for the crew, there were no major injuries tackling Shock this session. Even when Felipe Cesarano, dubbed a 'psycho' by his peers wiped out on exit from the tube after nearly colliding with Matheus Couto, who was trying to get the shot from the channel. "Everyone who knows the guy, knows he is a psycho and always entertains those who are watching," lensman, Cesinha Feliciano tells us. "He has fun surfing huge barrels but also laughs a lot about his insane wipeouts which confirms that the guy is really crazy."
The crowd on the rocks though, were stood waiting mainly for one man. Local hero, the man who made the call, Bruno Santos. "When Bruninho grabbed the rope, people watching from the rocks were already up and the vibe was different," remembered Marcos Base. "Everyone knows how good he is on that wave, even though he has to tackle it backside. A huge bomb came and he looked calm, stood grabbing the rail of his board waiting for the barrel but once inside he was exploded and broke his board."
Fortunately for Shock's leading man and the local contingent of spectators, he avoided hitting the bottom, grabbed another sled and carried on getting whipped into some of the heaviest tunnels of the day.
"Everyone continued exchanging places, towing and being towed into crazy waves until the wind came up at about 10am. After, we all met at the beach, talked about the session and showed photos — all super stoked on unforgettable day at Shock."