Portugal’s most dangerous wave is set to host the world’s best surfers as they make their yearly pilgrimage to tame the monster swell currently being generated by the destructive Storm Ciara. The ‘storm of the century’ has wreaked havoc across Europe, particularly the UK, but down in Portugal, the winds are looking favourable for an all-new Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge.
Invitees are currently scrambling across the globe to get jet skis, boards and safety equipment primed and ready for what could be the biggest waves to ever slam into a competition arena. We're talking about the type of swell that could see Guinness World Records broken, life-threatening wipe-outs and hectic conditions that will no doubt keep rescue teams on high alert.
The restructured event will see a brand new format for 2020 with final results determined by an athlete-led judging panel. Instead of surfing to a traditional scoring structure, the day's top performances will be shown that evening at the athlete presentation. Each competitor will privately vote for their favourites, allowing a peer-reviewed judging panel of the heavy-water elite to recognise the best amongst them.
The All-New Nazaré Challenge Tow-In Surfing Format
- The teams will surf in a four-hour expression session with no elimination or traditional rules.
- A rotating heat format and priority system will put five teams in the water at all times.
- Each team will have two, one-hour heats to tow each other into the giant waves of Nazaré.
The four awards up for grabs:
- Men's Wave of the Day
- Women's Wave of the Day
- Team Champions
- The Jogos Santa Casa Commitment Award
Group A: Heats 1 & 3
Team World: Sebastian Steudtner (DEU) & Maya Gabeira (BRA)
Team Europe: Nic von Rupp (PRT) & Francisco Porcella (ITA)
Team France: Benjamin Sanchis (FRA) & Eric Rebiere (FRA)
Team Australia: Ross Clarke-Jones (AUS) & Mick Corbett (AUS)
Team Atlantic: Grant Baker (ZAF) & Antonio Silva (PRT)
Group A: Heats 2 & 4
Team Portugal: Alex Botelho (PRT) & Hugo Vau (PRT)
Team Great Britain: Andrew Cotton (GBR) & Tom Butler (GBR)
Team Brazil: Rodrigo Koxa (BRA) & Pedro Scooby (BRA)
Team Young Bulls: Lucas Chianca (BRA) & Kai Lenny (HAW)
Team Justine: Justine Dupont (FRA) surfer only/Fred David driver only
While the new format encourages a ‘jam’ type expression session, it’s worth remembering that Nazaré is a wave where many of the best big-wave surfers in the world have copped the worst floggings of their lives. Andrew Cotton’s back-breaking 2017 wipe-out is the perfect case in point.
Set off the coastline of Portugal’s Praia do Norte, Nazare, the unique bathymetry of deep-water canyons below the surface create a funnel for energy to unload on the famous surf zone that sits precariously close to rugged cliffs. The famous lighthouse vantage point has made Nazaré one of the greatest viewing platforms in sport, where spectators can get close enough to literally feel the power of the ocean as these giant waves rumble into the cliffs below.
The current world record for the biggest wave ever surfed is held by Rodrigo Koxa, who toppled Garrett McNamara's 2011 record with a 24.38 metre monster at Nazaré in April of 2018.
With surfers set to enter the water at 7 PM AEDT, February 11th, be sure to catch the action live at worldsurfleague.com.