Just a month after the TUDOR Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge presented by Jogos Santa Casa, Nazare saw the second major swell of the Northern Hemiphere winter make landfall. Last Friday and Saturday, big wave chargers from around the world dropped everything else to take part in the action and potentially ride the wave of their lives.
For Nic von Rupp, Portugal's standout big wave surfer, this was one of the best days he'd ever experienced at his home break. Alongside his new edit on "Von Froth", we wanted to catch up with him to see just how good Nazare was last weekend.
WSL: The obvious first question is; how big was it on Saturday?
Von Rupp: Well, it was big. I scored some of the best waves I've ever ridden out there. However I'm not out there 100 percent obsessed to catch the biggest wave of the day. It's more channeling my energy and focus into catching as many good waves as I can.
And did that work out?
Absolutely. Myself and Pedro Scooby got out there at 8.30 am and surfed till 5.30 pm and at some points, we were the only ones out there. We put it all on the line and gave it our all. And we were probably one of the only teams to come out in one piece. There were so many accidents and lot of people got hurt. There were busted bones and broken jetskis, so there was carnage, but I rode some absolute bombs; the type of waves I had in my mind to ride.
What's it like being out there on your own?
Being out there alone means you don't have that extra layer of safety. When guys like Sérgio Cosme or Sebastian Steudtner and Maya Gabeira are out there, they are the best in the business. But we stayed calm and we were in tune. Scooby was driving really well, we had Andre Santos on the cliff spotting and Lourenco Katzenstein doing second ski safety. We had one of those days where we picked the right waves, didn't fall on any or miss a pickup and we both ended up catching 20 waves each. That's as good as it gets.
You and Scooby seem to have kept up the form that you had in the Tudor Nazare Tow Challenge.
Definitely, though it's hard to partner up full-time with Scooby cause he has a lot going on. He's already gone back to film Big Brother in Brazil which will make him a multi-millionaire and even more of a rock star than he already is. So we have different agendas; I'm more about staying here and training, but he's gotta do a show and for Scooby, the show must go on.
Despite having quite different agendas and personalities, you seem to have formed a pretty tight team though.
We've known each other for years and we have the same perspectives and approach on how to ride a wave and what waves to pick. We communicate well, and we both know our weaknesses and work hard on getting better at them. We aren't arrogant enough to suggest there isn't a whole lot of room for improvement. It's a constant work in progress to be better surfers and a better team.
It can be frustrating, only because he isn't always here, but he's an amazing surfer and driver and over the last two swells I feel like we have really given Lucas and Kai a run for their money in terms of a team's performance.
How does Saturday rate in terms of your sessions out there?
I've had some bombs over the years, particularly in 2020, but I've never felt like I've put everything into a whole day. In the past I've caught a few waves, then rested or chilled. But I like the Sebastian Stuednter approach of just towing wave after wave, all day. That's how you break records. So to do that all day from sunrise to sundown on one of the biggest days ever at Nazare was a big jump for me. It felt different.
And there's not much downtime, right? There's always an episode of Von Froth to put out.
Yes, I've been working with the team and getting footage since we got out of the water. I mean that's a race now too; whoever brings out the edit first tends to get more views and keeps the sponsors happy. So that's a big part of the game now for better and for worse.
You mention the carnage, how does it affect you when you see bad wipeouts or people in trouble?
Nazare is so gnarly, you are constantly readying yourself for the worst-case scenario. You are expecting someone to die, and that feeling never stops all day. I was right in front when Justine Dupont fell on that huge wave. The wave was so, so big, and suddenly she skipped out and fell. It was that one in 100 times when something goes seriously wrong. She was pounded by the next one, she was near the rocks and everyone went in and couldn't get her.
Do you receive the information on what is going down?
Yes, you hear it all on the radio. Who's in trouble, who's safe, but you are out there, and, man, the show must go on. Days like that don't happen very often. As soon as you hear that the red alert is over and you aren't required to help save someone's life, you just have to focus on your team and on getting each other the best waves we can. So much preparation and work have gone into that eight-hour session, that you have to make it pay. On Saturday that's what we did. We didn't crash, no one got hurt, and we scored some of the biggest and best waves of our lives.