It is easy for the uninitiated to predict that the largest waves in the world will break off the shores Australia or Hawaii. Over the past ten years, Nazare, or pronounced “Naz-aray”, has attracted the most skilled big wave surfers from around the globe. It is located near Praia Do Norte, a charming town on Portugal’s rugged western coast.
Nazare is a true monster – the wave it’s claimed is most likely to break the magical one-hundred-foot-high barrier that has long been the Holy Grail of big wave surfing. The Canhao da Nazare created this amazing feat of nature. It is the largest underground canyon in Europe. The canyon reaches depths of 16,500 ft and tapers to land as it meets the coast. It funnels the waves that have been building up through the Atlantic Ocean into massive towers of water. These are the places where surfers, as talented as they may be, place themselves. They are whipped in by jetskis to ensure that they have enough speed and power to beat the foaming beast. It is quite an arena.
Nazare’s fame has been heightened by the fact that these waves are directly in front of a viewing platform on a cliff. It looks like it was designed specifically for video sharing and multimedia.
On 29 October 2020, Sebastian Steudtner of German (not a nation known for giant surf or professional surfers) was pulled into the record that Guinness World Records has just ratified as the largest wave ever surfed. The 86ft tall tower reduced Steudtner’s size to almost comical levels. It took almost two years for the record to be awarded.
Steudtner spoke to Spanish newspaper Marca about his wave. He said that he had “tears coming out of my eyes due to the wind, and my face was melting.” It was amazing. It was something I never imagined could happen in surfing. He said, “I recall thinking, ‘oh, that’s fast!'” It was chaotic and chattery. Although it felt huge, I wasn’t sure how large. It’s just how it is out there. You just keep going.”
Steudtner knows the importance of “Keeping going”. Although he has a reputation for surfing big waves, his latest achievements were marred by a bizarre mishap that cost him dear both financially and emotionally. Steudtner’s 2018 surfed at Nazare became a viral sensation with more than a million views on different platforms. It was also the most shared and watched wave of all time. Steudtner was denied the reward and glory he deserved. Most news outlets and celebrities incorrectly attributed footage to Rodrigo Koxa, the Brazilian surfer. Some, but not all, have since corrected the error.
Today Steudtner is more philosophical, despite the missed opportunities for sponsorship and funding that such coverage would have afforded him. It’s possible that I didn’t get credit for it, but we won’t know the reason. But it’s one of the most popular surfing releases ever. For me, it’s ok to be acknowledged by the public in this way. It is being corrected by people who see it. People have spoken. It’s messy on the business side [laughs].
It must be quite satisfying to now hold the record for surfing the largest wave. “This achievement and the performance of my entire team are truly impressive. Since I was young, I had a dream to be a surfer. I have always kept that in mind. Magicseaweed: “I hope my story and the World Record will inspire others to pursue their dreams,” he said. What does it mean for him and his future career? It is wonderful to have, feels like it was meant to be. This is what I have been working on, and I don’t know anyone else who cares as much. It’s great to have it on my resume. Let’s see how it turns out.
Nazare is an amazing vacation spot, whether Steudtner inspired you to get wetsuits, board, and motor into the line yourself (don’t). It is a traditional fishing village with a large sandy beach. The mild, warm climate makes it an all-year option. For big wave surfing (watching), the best time to catch those huge winter swells is from October through March.