“It hasn’t been this good in six years.”
Xico Alves was reflecting on a session at his home spot in Portugal last Wednesday — away from the hubbub of Peniche or those powerful, heavy-water spots further south. But surfers here still want to pack those long, deep tubes all the way from the top of the tightly packed peak to the racey inside section.
View Live: Supertubos
“I actually broke my board on the first wave of the day,” Xico said. “Had to swim in all the way through the bay to get my other board out of the car and paddle back out. But I saw this wave coming, put my head down and gave it everything I had. It was one of those really special moments in surfing.”
These are the swells we love. Crazily, this one was formed thanks to Arctic wind plunging down over the U.S. Northeast coast. The swell then fanned out, travelling thousands of miles over open ocean and slamming Western Europe with that long-period stuff.
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And even before this swell peaked on wild Wednesday, Portugal had already seen a few days of decent surf with light offshore wind, a great combo for the points and reefs of the west coast.
At roughly the same time as Xico was getting his, Julio Terres was eyeing up a drawn-out righthand pointbreak some 300 kilometres south. After getting down to the beach for first light, Julio paddled out and stroked into a wave that opened and clamped and opened just enough again for Terres to make a neat double barrel.
“That was crazy,” he said. “It’s rare you get something like that here, usually it runs away. But this time, I didn’t have to do much. The wave did most of the work. Ended up being one of my best waves I’ve had in Portugal. That was maybe the best swell for Portugal this season, as well. Surfed for five hours straight.”
“Few tow waves out there, a few paddle waves, and a few beers at the end of the day,” said Antonio Silva, one of the most prolific surfers at Portugal’s meanest wave, Cave. “But it was the best day out there since last December.”
For Salvador Couto, Wednesday was his first swing at Cave’s soul-destroying paddle-out. After all, this was a wave he’d spent 10 years thinking about surfing. “The entrance was quite difficult, there were sets that closed the entire bay,” he said. “Managed to get out and catch a wave, but I don’t know if I surfed Cave, or if Cave surfed me. The margin of error at that wave is zero.”
Meanwhile, Supertubos was relatively empty. “One of the funnest and quietest days I’ve ever seen out there,” said Portuguese pro Tiago Pires. “Think I saw 15 or 20 bombs in two hours. I was out there.”
While this swell delivered beautiful, mid-sized waves to Praia do Norte, we haven’t seen a truly gigantic day at the world’s biggest wave yet this season, a stark contrast to 2022.
“It’s been a slow season,” said Nazare photographer and resident Helio Antonio. “There’ve been days of waves, but we haven’t had a colossal session yet. In my time here, I remember maybe one season worse than this.” And with time ticking down on the season, it’s unlikely we’ll see a massive Nazare session this winter.
“An arctic blast helped produce a deep low pressure to the south of Greenland, which was the catalyst for this swell,” said Surfline forecaster Jamie Bateman. “It set up a strong, mid-period WNW swell, which fanned out across the North Atlantic and began showing along the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula by Tuesday February 7th.
“The surf peaked for Portugal in the double-to-triple overhead range by the next day, as offshore swell heights touched 8 foot at 16 seconds. As this swell moved in, the entire west coast of Portugal was blessed with offshore, east wind, which was breezy at times.”
Keep an eye on the cams over the next few days, it’s about to get very good: Supertubos | Nazare | Baleal | Mundaka |