Senior Editor

The Inertia

When you’re surfing very big waves, it doesn’t matter who you are or how good you are at doing it. You will wipe out, and you will wipe out badly. Hopefully, though, since you surf very big waves, you’ve trained extensively for it. Such is the case with Kai Lenny and Lucas Chianca, a pair of men who know the wave at Nazaré so well they’ve won the World Surf League’s big wave surfing event there not once, but twice.

On their way to that second win in mid-December, 2021, Lenny and Chianca found themselves in a bad spot. Lenny, who went right on a beast, fell — something you don’t see too often — and ended up near the rocks. Those rocks, as Andrew Cotton knows all too well, are not a place you want to be near. Chianca charged in to pluck him from the roiling seas, but couldn’t quite make the escape before another wave mowed them down.

It’s not an entirely unique situation to either of them. They train for situations like this and as I mentioned, they expect them to happen. The only way one is able to surf waves like this is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Part of preparing for the worst means having some of the best rescue crews on hand and ready to risk their own lives. It speaks volumes that other rescuers were on the ball enough to zip in and attempt to grab them. Without the rescue teams, the progression in waves of ungodly size wouldn’t be possible.


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