How a Portuguese fishing village tamed a 100-foot wave

As the waves of Nazaré are more dangerous than any other surf spot in the world, according to Von Rupp, these feats were only made possible thanks to the implementation of the strictest safety regime in history. surfing on big waves.

In addition to the jet ski pilot, who places the surfer on the wave, the teams authorized to surf in Nazaré during a big swell must also include a spotter equipped with a radio which informs the pilot of the surfer’s location. “When you’re in the living water you don’t know where something is, you’re just trying to survive,” said Salvador, who was in charge of security when McNamara landed in Portugal in 2010. There’s also a second lifeguard on a jet ski, and a third in the great days.

Even then the reality is you can die, says Joana Andrade, the only Portuguese woman to ride the big waves of Nazaré. She prepared for eight months before her first attempt in 2013, a process that involved physical and spiritual training such as visualization and breathing techniques. “You can have the physical body super well prepared, but it’s your mind that is going to save you if things go wrong,” she explained. According to Von Rupp, some surfers are pondering their own drowning. “You have to be prepared not to panic if you are about to pass out, because that’s when you open your mouth and let out all your oxygen. Your best chance for survival is to stay calm. “

If the worst happens, the responsibility rests with the first jet ski operator. For Von Rupp and Andrade, it is Sergio Cosme, who has become “the guardian angel of Nazaré”. “If you practice something 100 times, it becomes automatic,” he told me. “At that moment there are so many worries in your head and in the case of security you have to be able to do things automatically and minimize the time of all the procedures because you only have a few seconds to do them. . “

But years of training don’t guarantee a successful rescue, which Cosme struggles to talk about. Last year, his friend, Portuguese big wave surfer Alex Botelho, lost consciousness between the waves and stopped breathing for 10 minutes before being rescued by his partner Hugo Vau and revived on the beach. “Someday the worst could happen, and it will be really hard to deal with,” Cosme said.

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