It’s not often you see someone on a bodyboard at giant Nazaré. It only makes sense, then, that Mike Stewart decided to give it a whirl again.
Mike Stewart is a wave-riding legend. He is Mister Pipeline, alongside people like Gerry Lopez and Butch Van Artsdalen. He rode Teahupoo in the ’80s, way before it was a household name. He’s a nine-time World Champion, he was the first to bodyboard at Jaws, he’s won at Pipeline many, many times, and played an integral role in advancing wave riding technology with Tom Morey.
Back in the mid-’80s, Stewart’s tube riding skills were so far ahead of everyone else’s, no one even realized exactly how far ahead he really was. Decades later, it’s becoming more and more apparent: Mike Stewart is a legend.
Although he’s no stranger at Praia do Norte, it’s been two years since he was last there. In 2016, Stewart paddled out at Nazaré with Dudu Pedra, a Brazilian wildman. The APB Tour called off the Nazaré Pro 2016, but Stewart and Pedra looked at the conditions and paddled out to catch a few bombs. It was an experience Stewart hasn’t forgotten, so on October 13, as Tropical Storm Leslie’s giant swell was slamming Portugal’s infamous underwater canyon, he paddled out on his own.
“The way I figured things was that if I couldn’t make the paddle out, then I probably shouldn’t try to handle the conditions,” explained Stewart to SurferToday. “This session took me two or three times longer to paddle out than the previous Nazaré session I had there. It was also discouraging to get pushed back after making progress, and so I almost gave up a couple of times to try from farther north up the beach.”
Eventually, though, Stewart made it out to the back and into a few very, very big waves.