If a wave is surfed at Nazaré and isn’t claimed to be 100 feet, did it even exist? Thus the existential crisis facing many a Nazaré devotee as another big wave season winds down. The masses were hopeful back in October of 2022 — assured the months ahead would bring viral glory and temporary rights to the “biggest wave ever surfed” title. But with just a couple of weeks to go before April, marking the unofficial end of this year’s window, many are grappling with the fact that there has yet to be a 100-foot wave claim this season.
Florida’s Jason Reynolds is one of those humbled chargers. He moved his belongings into a storage unit back in the States and sold his Toyota Tacoma (with a shell) to pay for a one-way ticket to Portugal before the new year, ripe with hope and an enthusiastic glimmer in his eye. The plan was to nab a 100-foot beast like his Instagram feed has handed out like candy year after year. That was step one. Step two: cash in.
“The last couple of big wave seasons, it seemed like every single swell that hit Nazaré churned out like 20 claims of a 100-foot wave,” he tells me over the phone. “Dude swings into a monster, any monster — ‘That’s gotta be 100 feet.’ Tow team on the wave behind him nabs the next set wave — ‘100 feet…’ The Hawaiian scale dictates that every wave is either two feet or eight, at most. But at Nazaré, everything that can get 100K views on the Insty is automatically 100 feet. That’s just how surfing works now. Forget the fact that not a single wave has ever received an official measurement that big. Because facts don’t matter, claims do.”
Reynolds’ last statement is an interesting one. He references the current, official world record wave, which was surfed in October 2020. That wave was finally verified and measured at 86 feet 19 months later in May of 2022. But to many in the media, the wave is 115 feet.
“Listen, if the internet has taught us anything the past few years it’s that claiming something on social media is way more important than being accurate,” he adds.
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Unfortunately, this big wave season just didn’t produce the flood of 100-foot claims as years past. There was no swell of the century. No internet-breaking purple blobs and very few last-minute tickets purchased from seasoned big wave pros. It all amounted to the lowest total of 100-foot wave claims in Nazaré’s short history, marking a new kind of world record altogether. For hopeful athletes like Reynolds, that drought has proven detrimental.
“I didn’t even earn enough internet clout to purchase my return flight,” he says.
Hang on to hope, friend. There’s still time for at least one purple blob to roll through the Atlantic.
Editor’s Note: Johnny Utah is an “Eff-Bee-Eye” agent and an expert in satire. More of his investigative work can be found here.