The inaugural Nazaré Challenge was an eye-opening affair for a variety of reasons, some more obvious than others. During the course of Tuesday’s heart-pounding competition we learned quite a bit about the current state of big-wave surfing. The following five topics dominated most of the post-event discussion in Portugal.
1. Big-Wave Surfing = Compelling Viewing
In terms of fan appeal, big wave surfing strikes an unmistakable chord whatever the level of involvement exists for the spectator. You don’t necessarily need to have invested decades as a die-hard surf fan to get a handle on what’s going on — there’s a tiny speck of a human teetering atop a mountain of water, making a split-second, potentially life-or-death decision. It’s a sporting risk/reward scenario at its most awe-inspiringly beautiful.
With a packed crowd lining the iconic clifftop since dawn, the atmosphere at Nazaré went through a palpable change throughout the day, almost a kind of danger fatigue. Whereas spectacular wipeouts were met with whoops, whistles and hoots in the earning morning, by early afternoon the assembled masses were pretty much watching through their fingers. You could sense the collective fear, an understanding of the gravity of the situation. The fact that the crowd had a grandstand view from above, watching the drama play out beneath them in a colosseum-like arena only added to the effect…..
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