The story about the North Canyon Wave and how it became a project
After one month, four big swells and some successful sessions riding Nazaré’s waves, the extreme waterman Garrett McNamara, 43 years old, returned home, to North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, with a sense of achievement.
The main goal of Garrett in Nazaré was to explore its waves – with special attention to Praia do Norte’s waves, which receive the effect of the geomorphologic phenomenon known as “Nazaré Canyon”. The canyon is so unique because it is one of the only one in the whole world that ends on the shore allowing the power of the water and swell to make it to the beach without losing any energy or size. Garrett was invited to explore the wave to see if it had potential for a big wave event!
During November, Garrett McNamara saw four big swells and two times the conditions were perfect for tow-in. He was able to see all the potential of those waves, which “are probably the biggest waves of the world for a beach break”, he said.
The Hawaiian surfer, one of the more respected waterman of the world, with several international awards and championships, worked with José Gregório (a former triple Portuguese surf champion, one of the most respected big waves surfers in Portugal and one of the athletes that better knows the waves of Nazaré, where he was born).
Garrett McNamara also had the chance to surf with Tiago “Saca” Pires (the most international Portuguese surfer and the only Portuguese who make part of the world surf elite), Ruben Gonzalez (a former four times Portuguese surf champion) and even with the Irish Alistair Mennie and the English Andrew Cotton, who came to Nazaré to experience the power of the waves of Praia do Norte.
Garrett caught other waves in the region of Nazaré, mostly with his Stand Up Paddle board, showing all the necessary technique to enjoy this kind of surf and sharing good waves with the locals bodyboarders. He showed big respect to them and recognized their pioneering role in the strong waves of Nazaré.
Garrett McNamara returned to Hawaii very impressed and with some well defined goals to a close cooperation with the Nazaré City Hall for the next years.
Jorge Barroso, the City Hall mayor, and Garrett McNamara signed an intent statement for the implementation of projects that can internationally promote Nazaré as a reference spot to the big waves sports and to the realization of a big wave event in 2012.
They both agreed to cooperate actively to achieve the following projects: Environmental Education to the Sea Center, a Rescue Center, a Big Wave Museum and a Tow-in Academy.
Jorge Barroso said that “Praia do Norte’s waves are unique” and that’s why Nazaré should “take the uniqueness of its sea”, that creates giant waves due the “North Canyon”. “In 2012 we’re going to make an innovative event in all of Europe. We count with Garrett McNamara and with this intent statement”, said Jorge Barroso, showing “the will of affirmation of Nazaré as a prime destination of big waves sports”.
To the extreme waterman, the big waves of Praia do Norte are some of the biggest that he ever saw. “After being here this month, learning the culture and working with this great team, I am 100 per cent sure that in 2012 we will hold a world class big event, promoting Nazaré all around the world”, said McNamara, referring that “the idea is to attract not only surfers or water sports lovers, but everybody.”
José Gregório was also present in the ceremony and congratulated the initiative. “This was one of the times when the surf was mostly spoken on the media”, commented.
To end his stay in Portugal, Garrett went to the second edition of the Portugal Surf Awards, the National Surf Ceremony, which counted this year with the awards of the Surf Portugal magazine, last weekend, also in Nazaré.
After the delivery of some awards and several conversations with some of the best Portuguese surfers, curious to know his views about the national waves, McNamara was surprised with an “International Personality of the Year” award by the oldest surf magazine in Portugal. They honored the commitment of the Hawaiian surfer in the exploration of Nazaré’s waves.
“This award was a huge surprise, but I’m much honored to receive it”, said Garrett with emotion. “The recognition of our work is always good, but the way that I was received by the Portuguese surf community was amazing. I’ll take you in my heart and I’m going to make everything to promote internationally the Nazaré’s waves and your hospitality. I’ll come back as soon as possible”, he concluded.
McNamara returned to Hawaii, to participate in the open ceremony of the most respected big waves championship of the world, Quicksilver in memory of Eddie Aikau, in Waimea Bay, Oahu, where he lives. He was one of the 28 invited surfers. Good luck G-Mac!
This project was organized by Câmara Municipal da Nazaré, Clube de Desportos Alternativos da Nazaré and Nazaré Qualifica E.E.M., with the support of QREN, MaisCentro, Feder, Turismo de Portugal – Oeste, Liberty Seguros, Lightning Bolt, GoPro – D’Maker, Filipemotoshow, Isuzu, Lena Automóveis, Peter Grimm, Noll, Instituto Hidrográfico Português, Spal, Tonic Gym, Surftotal, Surf Portugal, Antena 3, Surfer Rule and Surfspots-gps.com.
Photos by POLVO/Jorge Leal e Wilson Ribeiro