The Inertia

This is drone footage of a wave ridden by Tom Butler in Nazaré, Portugal on December 14, 2018. The conditions were perfect on this swell; perfect wind, glassy ocean (by Nazaré standards), and a pumping swell. The charts were showing the swell at 30-35 feet, which translates to waves in excess of 65 feet at Nazaré.

This was the biggest set of the day and Tom with his tow partner Sebastian Steudtner were in the best possible position to score this bomb.. Myself and the cameramen on the cliff were thinking this wave was about 65 feet, and after reviewing the footage and calculating Tom’s height, it was in fact closer to 70 feet and larger. At the time, Butler told the Guardian he’d bagged one that may have pushed the elusive 100-foot mark, which will far surpass Rodrigo Koxa’s current world record holder at the same venue if Guiness World Record officials agree. We didn’t know it at the time, but this wave made history on a global scale.

I was lucky to be there, and was the only person to film this wave with a drone. Now, the drone camera lens doesn’t give the full feel of the wave, but it does offer a unique perspective, and you can still find footage from other photographers shooting that day on the cliff (Pedro Miranda has a great shot of this wave).

Wave height is one of the most controversial things in surfing, as there’s no clear way (not yet) to measure a wave with 100% accuracy, so Tom’s wave here is a new one for us all to dissect and debate in the hunt for world records and big wave awards.


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