The big wave season's barely begun in the northern hemisphere, yet, over the weekend, Nazare bared teeth, jacking to the XL realm. For those in the water, this was only going to be a warm up session for the months ahead, getting the feel of foam under feet, but when Poseidon greases your palm with opportunity, you make damn sure to take it.
And right here, Marcelo Luna's officially kicked off the big wave season on this monster that reared up out of Nazare on Saturday.
“Nobody was there when I arrived with tow partner Alessandro Marciano,” says Marcelo. “But when we got in, Andrew Cotton, Hugo Vau and Rodrigo Koxa, turned up. “I decided to get waves right in front of the light house, because I was seeing some solid ones come through there. I know Nazaré well and thought that was a good chance to get a biggest one.”
And ended up hucking into the wave of the day, which marks the first entry this season into the WSL's Big Wave Awards committee, teeing it up for contention as biggest waved surfed this season. And this is just day one, we're likely to have more wild rides, more volume on Portugal's liquid mountain. For Marcelo, it was kind of a surprise as the wave doubled up and allowed him to shoot down this behemoth. Not the biggest we've seen, but a solid entry into the realm of what's possible at Nazare.
Those sand banks aren't looking the best either, as noted by Nazare lensman Helio Antonio. Will be interesting to see how the dynamic changes once a big storm gets in there and whips it up. As for the forecast on Saturday, it was a solid west pulse capping out at 9ft@12 seconds, with variable offshore winds. The swell's sucked into Portugal thanks to a combo of storm Leslie and Callum. As you know, Nazare's a damn swell magnet, capable of holding waves up to 80ft plus.
"By mid-week last week a broad, complex area of low pressure had been hanging around the north Atlantic for a few days with its main centre just west of Ireland," says MSW forecaster Tony Butt. "A disturbance appeared on the southern periphery of the main centre early Thursday and deepened explosively as it quickly moved from the Azores towards the northeast, eventually hitting southwest Britain and Ireland on Friday as Storm Callum.
"While the main thrust of the swell hit those areas directly from the southwest, there was enough spreading for a pulse of west swell to reach Portugal by Saturday. Open-ocean wave heights were around eight to ten feet, which translated into 15 feet or more at Nazaré.
"At the same time, Hurricane Leslie was fast approaching Portugal from the southwest, which meant light to moderate offshore winds from the southeast on Saturday morning, veering south in the afternoon. Luckily, this gave a window of opportunity before Leslie arrived and conditions turned ugly.
Given the majority of Big Wave awards were split between Nazare and Jaws last year, we're likely to see an influx of visitors to Portugal's hallowed shores. Nazare has also legitimised tow surfing once again, there's no way you can scratch into those colossal peaks with paddle power only. And while some may still believe tow surfing to be less pure than paddle, can you blame hellmen for wanting the claim of biggest wave ever surfed? Should that accolade be divided between biggest paddled and biggest towed? Remains to be seen, but for now, keep an eye on the charts by going HERE.