One of the biggest, cleanest swells in history is set to hit Nazaré this Wednesday and Thursday. The former storm Epsilon has merged with a low pressure system off Greenland. The resulting super cell comes with favourable winds meaning Nazare could be all time.
"I can't really remember a swell this big, coming with the little wind, for some time, maybe even ever," Nazaré veteran Andrew "Cottie" Cotton told the WSL. "It's really exciting; a six-meter northwest swell with a 20 second plus period and very little wind. It should peak on Wednesday evening and be massive all day Thursday. Basically it could be as big and clean as Nazaré gets."
"With the favorable swell direction and period, waves should be in the 50- to 70-foot range with the max sets of the day potentially even bigger," wrote Surfline's chief forecaster Kevin Wallis. "Looking back at 40-plus years of data, a swell of this magnitude happens roughly every two and a half years -- this could be one of the largest October swells on record."
"It's the swell I've been waiting for all my life," said Nic Von Rupp. "I have been watching the charts here since 2009 and nothing I have seen has been this big or this clean." The swell has come before the waiting period of the Nazaré Tow Challenge starts and its unusual size will mean for many the first surf of the season will be a baptism of fire.
"We usually have few swells through November and December which helps with your confidence when a XL one arrives," said Cotton. "This though is like having the Super Bowl as the first game of the season."
The size and strength of the storm has led it to being compared to Hercules, a 2014 storm that provided at the time some of the biggest waves ever recorded, and ridden, in The Atlantic. Now, usually a forecast like this would see the best big wave surfers in the world scrambling to get to Portugal in time.
However, obviously, this isn't normal times. Severe travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 has meant that swell will be tackled mostly by just the core Nazaré faithful and those further afield who simply couldn't stay away.
"The surfers who really live for this place, the surfers who really want to be here will be here," said Von Rupp. "I've heard Kai Lenny is flying over, Lucas Chianca is already here. And yesterday I surfed with Sebastian Stuednter, Maya Gabeira, Justine Dupont, Cottie and the local regulars. It was big, maybe 40 to 50 feet, but nothing compared to what is coming."
Von Rupp just dropped a Von Froth episode edit of that session, however it's all about the preparation for what he calls the Swell of the Century.
Garrett McNamara, the Nazaré OG, has brought his usual winter stay in Portugal forward to make it for the swell.
"Yemaya is the goddess of the living ocean and she is delivering something special on Wednesday," G-Mac wrote, rather mystically, whilst traveling with his wife and young children on the 30-odd hour journey from Honolulu to Lisbon.
But it is Australian Ollie Dousset that might get the award for making the most effort. The amputee surfer had his first taste of Nazaré last year and vowed to return. Despite severe restrictions on either entering or leaving Australia, Dousett successfully petitioned the Australian government to travel to Europe to surf and document his adventure.
For now, though, the surfers have one more day to wait and prep for what might be a truly historic day of waves. Stay tuned to here to get the latest updates, video and photos from Portugal.