Nazaré Big Wave Challenge Goes on Yellow Alert for 'Probable' Monday Start

It’s been a somewhat quiet season, so far, for Nazaré – the sleepy Portuguese fishing town home to the biggest waves on earth, Guinness World Records, etc.

But that could change in the next 72 hours, with a sizable swell on the way.

And so, the world’s best big wave tow surfers are turning their heads towards the Atlantic, prepping their inflation vests and jet skis, and anxiously awaiting a potential start on Monday, January 22, 2024 for the TUDOR Nazaré Big Wave Challenge.

Per a press release from the World Surf League:

“The TUDOR Nazaré Big Wave Challenge, one of two World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave season events, is on standby for a potential run day on Monday, January 22, 2024. With a large WNW swell and favorable winds headed toward Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal, there is high confidence that the event will run.”

As this is a tow surfing competition, and competitors will surf in teams, the event looks a little different than your average surf contest. Here’s a breakdown of how the day will unfold, should the suitable surf forecast play out:

Lucas Chianca, winner of the Men's Best Performance title at the 2022 Nazaré Big Wave Challenge, pushing the limits.<p>Photo by Rémi Blanc/World Surf League</p>
Lucas Chianca, winner of the Men's Best Performance title at the 2022 Nazaré Big Wave Challenge, pushing the limits.

Photo by Rémi Blanc/World Surf League

“The TUDOR Nazaré Big Wave Challenge is a specialty, one-day event with tow-in surfing teams. There will be nine teams made up of two competitors on each team. The competition order for the teams will consist of three groups, with three teams competing in each group. The competition will host six 40-minute heats, and each group will participate in two heats, where the individuals within each team will alternate between surfing and driving the team’s jet ski.

“After surfing both heats, a surfer’s best two waves will count toward an individual total score, with the best wave counting as double points. A surfer’s maximum individual score will be 30 points, as each wave is scored from 1-10 points. Surfers will be awarded across multiple categories at the end of the competition day.”

The competitors for this year’s event are as follows:

TUDOR Nazaré Big Wave Challenge Invitees*:
*Teams subject to change ahead of Green Alert/Run Day
Team 1: Lucas Chianca (BRA) and Kai Lenny (HAW)
Team 2: Nic von Rupp (PRT) and Pedro Scooby (BRA)
Team 3: Andrew Cotton (GBR) and Will Skudin (USA)
Team 4: Rodrigo Koxa (BRA) and Kealii Mamala (HAW)
Team 5: João De Macedo (PRT) and Antônio Silva (PRT)
Team 6: Sebastian Steudtner (DEU) and Daniel Goldberg (HAW)
Team 7: Maya Gabeira (BRA) and Antonio Laureano (PRT)
Team 8: Michelle des Bouillons (BRA) and Ian Cosenza (PRT)
Team 9: Justine Dupont (FRA) and Éric Rebière (FRA)

Alternate Teams:
Rafael Tapia (CHL) and Jamie Mitchell (AUS)
António Laureano (PRT) and Pierrot Caley (FRA)
Benjamin Sanchis (FRA) Jerome Sayhoun (MAR)

Stay tuned; a Green Alert (meaning the contest is 100% on, if conditions comply) could be issued within the next 24 to 48 hours.

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