NewsNazaré ChallengeJamie Mitchell

Nazaré Challenge Big-Wave Contest Could Run Saturday

It's already been a winter to remember at Nazaré, the Portuguese break that has brought the world some of the biggest waves ever ridden. This week, a huge swell is again predicted to make its way toward Nazaré's famous deep-water canyon and, if the forecast continues to develop as expected, the Nazaré Challenge could run Saturday, February 10 local time. Commissioners are closely watching the reports, their next update is Wednesday morning, PDT.

Highlights: Beauties and Beasts at Nazaré Challenge
The first-ever Nazaré Challenge delivered some incredible performances, as well as some terrifying wipeouts.

Surfline is predicting the following: We are tracking a strong NW swell for Saturday, February 10th and the latest guidance looks a little more promising that what we have seen the past couple days. This storm is just starting to pull together now and we should be able to gather more data on it in the next 24 hours.

At this point it looks like we'll see building swell throughout the day on Saturday the 10th, with the largest waves looking likeliest during the afternoon hours. For the early morning we expect a slower start, but wave face size possibly in the 15-25' range. From around mid day on we'll currently look for surf in the 25-35' range, with some larger waves possible. Note that we'll also see some short period NW swell mixing in through the day, giving the surf at least a slightly jumbled feel.

Local wind, while not perfect, looks manageable at this point. NE/NNE wind in the morning around 10-15kts will likely trend N later morning through the afternoon in the 12-16kt range.

Jamie Mitchell vs. Nazaré
Mitchell paid the price for his glory.

The Nazaré Challenge was a new addition to the WSL's Big Wave Tour for the 2016/2017 season, and the first event ran December 20, 2016. Australian Jamie Mitchell won the event with some jaw-dropping performances at the break, which has long been considered inaccessible to paddle-in-surfing. If the 2017/2018 event runs, Mitchell will again be on the roster to defend his event title, while Hawaii's Kai Lenny, the current Big Wave Tour rankings leaders, will have a shot at redemption, after finishing in 13th place at the 2016 event.

Hobgood Sets the Tempo at Nazaré
Damien Hobgood sticks a heavy drop at Nazaré before pulling the eject button.

So far this year, 2017/2018 WSL Big Wave Tour has completed its first two events of the season, with Lenny winning the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico and Maui's Ian Walsh and Paige Alms winning the Pe'ahi Challenge.

Formed in 2009, the Big Wave Tour became part of the WSL in 2014, and has run events at a handful of breaks that had never hosted contests before, including as Nazaré in Portugal and Pe'ahi on Maui's North Shore. The BWT runs events only when surf reaches the 30-foot-plus mark, mobilizing on 72 hours' notice with an international field of athletes.

Nic Lamb's Price of Admission
Nic Lamb took a brutal wipeout early in the Final at the inaugural Nazaré Challenge.

Nazaré has not only bred a high-caliber field of talented European surfers, but has also helped generate numerous submissions for the annual Big Wave Awards. most recently, BWT surfer Lucas Chianca and BWT Nazaré invitee Hugo Vau were among those who took on the Portuguese wave, and came out with bar-setting performances. France's Justine Dupont has also been a standout at the break, relocating there last winter to train there each season.

For the moment, though, Nazaré's potential weekend sessions are a waiting game. Updates will continue as the forecast unfolds.

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