When it comes to opinions on Nazaré, everybody’s got one. Some are shared from the safety of a Disqus comment thread on the other side of the world, others are formed from an afternoon spent atop the famous cliff, watching on. Very few are as qualified as Garrett McNamara’s, whose exploits at Praia da Norte since 2011 have helped make it the most famous surf spot on the planet. We called G Mac in Nazaré over the weekend to get a bit of context on the size and beauty of the historic Epsilon swell, and get his inside take on some of the antics that ensued during it.
Thursday (29/10/20) was definitely the best day I’ve ever seen at Nazaré for good waves, all day long. It wasn’t the biggest day ever, but it was the cleanest we’ve ever had for the whole day. It was beautiful from sun up to sun down, and definitely interesting and challenging. There were some big chops on most of the waves; aside from a couple of clean faces I’d say 99% were big mogul rides, but everybody’s got such good equipment now, and spent so much time, that they were making it look easy.
Size-wise, it wasn’t as big as thought it was going to be, and the wave that I’m looking for didn’t show up. We’ve had bigger days, but for an hour or two, and all the amazing moments come within like one hour. Thursday just saw epic, amazing moments go down all day, which is so rare.
“It wasn’t the biggest day ever, but it was the cleanest we’ve ever had for the whole day”
We waited a long time for Cotty’s wave. The funny thing about that wave is that it doesn’t look too intense, but it took everything just to ride it out to the bottom, because of all the water coming out of the canyon right there. I was stoked I put him right in the perfect spot, and he was able to do what he wanted to do, and make it. It was definitely a huge one. It’s really interesting the whole measuring thing, ‘Ego, come out and play… My wave is bigger than yours… My wave brings all the boys to the yard’ (laughs), all that.
If you take the scientific approach, measuring from crest to trough, then the wave is like 120ft. But us surfers, we’re influenced by how we were brought up to measure surf, rather than waves, so somebody else might measure it 50ft. I have no idea actually what size it really is. I didn’t try and measure it myself. How they’re gonna figure out where the bottom is, that’s a whole different story. The bottom is at least 20-40ft down from where they’re measuring, looking at the contours of the waves.
Fortunately, I wasn’t near any of the stuff that went down , we were just having a really good time. Then at one moment we noticed a whole bunch of guys yelling and stuff going on right on the inside. I don’t know exactly what happened, but it was really interesting to see everybody’s… energy. Let’s put it that way. Tow surfers yelling at each other saying ‘Let’s go to the beach’ all that, I don’t know if that’s really happened before, I’m sure it probably has. But it’s certainly the first time that I’ve seen it. It was so funny to see everybody so angry, when the waves were so good.
(cover image) Nazaré, 29/10/20 Photo: WSL