Ahmed Erraji has a simple goal. Simple, it would seem, in theory – less so in execution: to conquer huge waves using his body as a vessel.
When we received an introductory email from Ahmed several months ago, we were intrigued.
“My name is Ahmed Erraji, I am 37 years old, and I am an XXL bodysurfer (I surf huge waves with only my bare chest),” his email read. Turns out Ahmed was born in Morocco, moved to Germany at 17 to study physical education, and has since traveled throughout Europe recently settling in Lanzarote in the Canaries, and charged (according to him) up to 50ft waves.
“I want to go big this winter,” he said. “I’m training hard and getting ready for body surfing mega swells in Nazaré, Portugal.”
That was several months ago, now. And recently we received a field update from Ahmed who successfully swam out at Nazaré and caught a few waves:
“Before going to Nazare, I trained hard for about 4 months, concentrating more on the subject of apnea. Nazaré is sand bottom, so there’s more turbulence than reef waves. Unlike what a lot of big wave surfers are using now, I don’t have a wetsuit with a flotation system, and it was very important to concentrate all of my effort on breathing. In September I did an apnea course, which gave me more knowledge.
“In Nazaré, when there are big waves you can’t paddle out from the beach. It’s impossible. Professional surfers typically launch jetskis from the port. But, I had to think of another idea. You know I don’t have a sponsor, so I put on my Xcel wetsuit and Dafin fins, approached a rock, waited for the set to end, and jumped from the cliff. It was all whitewater. I managed to dodge many waves until I reached the peak.
“I managed to take off on some very beautiful and big waves, as you can see in the photos, with only two fins and a normal wetsuit in about 50-degree water. I suffered a few brutal wipeouts, too, with almost 30 second hold-downs. During a wipeout, the wave at Nazaré crushes you in such a way that you don’t know if you are going up or down.”
Damn. It’s worth noting that Ahmed isn’t the only bodysurfer pushing the limits of what’s possible with two fins.
Still, anyone who’d willingly throw themselves over a 30-foot-plus ledge without so much as a boogie board to rely on for flotation deserves serious props.
“My passion in life is bodysurfing big waves,” says Ahmed. “It’s what I live for.”
Follow Ahmed Erraji on Instagram at @hijo_del_mar.