The action starts with Toby Cunningham getting towed into a massive wave at Nazaré on one of the biggest days this winter. After successfully riding the first wave of a big set, Toby can’t outrun the white water and eventually falls off his surfboard. By this point, Toby had been dragged well inside of the impact zone, an obviously dangerous place to be at Praia do Norte.
His teammate Glyn Ovens tries to swoop in and grab him on the first pass and this is where things get dramatic. With the next wave of the set already barreling in on Toby and Glyn, Glyn has to race away and Toby is left to take one on the head. Once Toby resurfaces, he sees another huge wave coming his way and signals for Glyn to once again abort the pickup. The moments that follow are incredibly stressful with no opportunities for a successful rescue between waves, putting Toby’s 25 years of big wave experience to the test. He manages to stay calm under pressure after several waves and at one point he even pumps his fist in the air and waves his arms as if he’s having fun, all to let everybody know he’s doing okay. Eventually, Toby gets picked up by Brazilian surfer Ian Cosenza and makes it back to shore in one piece.
“Nazaré makes everything I’ve ever surfed in the past feel small,” Toby says. “Getting a beat down at Nazaré can be an incredibly fun experience or a daunting experience. It all depends on your mindset. I choose to enjoy doing out of control flips underwater where it is pitch black and incredibly loud. I absolutely love that I have no control over what is happening to me underwater and letting the ocean do whatever it pleases.”
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