This clip shows 51-year-old Portuguese big wave surfer and airline pilot, Salvador Villas Boas charging one of the biggest waves of the day during a monster swell in February 2019. Salvador gets thrown off his board in one of the most dangerous areas of Praia do Norte, near the rocks and impact zone. Salvador hits the water at nearly 50 miles-per-hour, being pulled back over the falls and whipped straight into a dramatic hold down before finally resurfacing.
The moments that followed the wipeout were a matter of life and death. Salvador’s was not the last wave of the set and his position in the impact zone demanded an immediate rescue. This is when Ramon Laureano came flying in on his ski. Ramon had been following Salvador from behind the wave and knew the rescue required nailing his first attempt before another wave came. Typically, a rescue attempt can wait after a second wave but Ramon knew the implications of waiting while Salvador swam so close to the rocks could be grave. After swooping in and grabbing Salvador, it was a race to avoiding being swallowed by a giant wall of whitewater. The duo eventually does lose their race and the ski is left capsized, floating in the impact zone.
Both Salvador and Ramon were able to swim back safely to the beach where the Jetski had already washed ashore and parked itself. No injuries were reported in what was one of the most spectacular rescue operations of this season at Nazaré.
This rescue, in particular, was truly one of the most heroic moments I witnessed out there. With more than 20 years of big wave experience, Ramon performed one of the most difficult rescues one can attempt in Nazaré, picking someone directly on the first peak’s impact zone between set waves. It’s something you don’t see every day.
Ramon runs “Jet Resgate Portugal,” which provides rescue and tow-in services for big wave surfers, along with educational courses in rescue and safety. Salvador is a veteran surfer and a commercial airline pilot, currently very active in Nazaré’s big wave scene.
Find more from videographer Pedro Miranda on Youtube here.