The first week of 2018 saw a handful of monster sessions at Nazaré and Saturday was no exception. When the weekend came around, conditions were definitively too heavy for paddling, leaving the crowd on the cliff ready for an all tow-in session. Instead, Lucas Chumbo, Francisco Porcella, Hugo Vau, Sebastian Steudtner, Mick Corbet, Jarryd Foster, Othmane Choufani, Owen Schultz, and Alex Botelho were a handful of chargers who decided to buck expectations, and the lineup soon looked like a mix between a Roman gladiator’s arena and a modern day warzone.
Waves were way too big and too fast for paddling, yet the perseverance and commitment of this crew was wonderful to watch. The biggest sets of the day resulted in everything from nasty wipeouts to broken boards or complete cleanups that took out five guys at a time and called for quick rescues. Francisco Porcella broke his gun after an abusive hold down and a beating of colossal proportions, all worth it after nearly getting into one of the biggest waves of the day. Sebastian Steudtner got totally drilled on a monster set that was hard to watch. Lucas Chumbo took a chance to tow into a couple of bombs before the party was over, and by the end of the morning, the lineup was starting to clear with offshore winds picking up and pretty much shutting the session down.
So everyone was done…except for Alex Botelho. He’d remained outside, all alone, with just his teammate Hugo Vau standing by on the ski. He patiently waited for his wave, and when it finally rolled through, he made one of the most critical drops we’ve seen in a long time. A few moments later he chased a monster left and barely missed it. The session ended after that but Alex had notched the wave of the day on his belt when he pushed over the ledge of that steep righthander.
Alex Botelho belongs to a new generation of Portuguese big wave surfers and his session on Saturday won’t be forgotten anytime soon.