July 4, 2022

The most giant tides that have even been conquered by surfers

Giant tides beckon almost all surfers, and only a few dare to actually conquer them. What should a beginner bigwave surfer know before setting off to fight the raging elements?

Here are a few things you need to know to get closer to your dream:

  • Places where huge tides of swells come several times a year can be counted on one hand.

Here are the main ones: Nazare in Portugal, Teahupu in Tahiti, Mavericks in California, Shiptern Bluff in Tasmania, Jaws and Pipeline in Hawaii.

All bigwave surfers are literally “waiting for the weather by the sea”, all the while tracking the signs of the slightest storm on weather sites.

Giant Wave, Nazare, Portugal
Nazare, Portugal
  • After you have reached the spot with ideal conditions, your goal is to catch the treasured giant sea .

You can swim on it in two ways: on your own on a narrow board about 3 m long (called “gan”) or on a short board using a jet ski.

The surface of the giant seas is uneven and the board needs to be heavy to keep the rider on the bumpy tide at high speeds.

By the way, the world record for surfing speed belongs to Mick Fanning: the Australian champion has developed a speed of 39.1 km / h on the Snapper Rocks spot.

giant waves surfing

  • In the event of a fall, the only thing that can save you on a giant  sea is a life jacket or a super-long durable leash (for fans of “gun” boards), with which you can get to the surface after your surfboard.

After falling, the sea can keep you underwater for 40 seconds.

You can survive in such a situation if you first train your lungs, and when you fall, relax and do not resist – when the raging water subsides, the time will come to get out to the light.

A giant pipe is unlikely to be so friendly with you – you can get a few seconds under water in exchange for hitting the bottom or a reef, or bumping your head against your own board.

  • Interestingly, fatalities at high tides are even less frequent than at popular Balinese spots.

“This is because only professionals are involved in bigwave surfing,” you will answer and you will be partly right. But such a ride does not require prohibitive professionalism, it is important to catch the sea and be able to stand stably on your feet.

Various tricks of surfers on low tides are sometimes much more difficult.

However, in the face of a huge wall, the height of which can sometimes be up to 30 meters, the most important thing is not to lose self-control. That is why a professional who is perfectly familiar with the behavior and deceit of the ocean should go on the giant tide.

Therefore, they do not die here so often, rather because there are few bigwave surfers in general and they are absolutely crazy – they are unfamiliar with fear.

big wave surfer

  • Storms around the world are haunted not only by surfers.

There are also daring windsurfers and kiteboarders who are looking forward not so much to giant tides as to terribly strong gusts of wind from the storm.

Red Bull even organized the world series of competitions Red Bull Storm Chase, where windsurfers, judging by the video and photos, are trying not only to survive in the stormy conditions of the open ocean, but to show insane tricks at the same time.

Red Bull Storm Chase

  • Many of us can only dream about giant waves, so the classic advice “Don’t try to repeat this at home” will not work here.

However, you should remember that if you decide to seriously engage in storm hunting, before successfully coping with the storm, you will have long training – studying the behavior of the tides and the ocean, improving your riding and breath-holding skills, and, most importantly, learning self-control.

The giant tides

big wave

The most giant seas are what makes a surfer’s heart skip a beat, even if it’s just a photograph.

In the first part of the article about the most dangerous waves for surfing, we already talked about the Pipeline, Teahupa and other legendary tides that every surfer should know.

This sea is the least popular of all the other seas in this article, and there are reasons for this.

Cyclops is located off the coast of Esperance in Western Australia, approximately 7 hours from the city of Perth. You can get to the spot only by using a boat.

This sea was discovered relatively recently, and, perhaps, its linden is the thickest and heaviest than other waves in the world.

surfing on big wave

The reef rises from the depths very sharply, which is why, when giant swells come, the wave rises so quickly, spitting out giant volumes of water onto a razor-sharp coral reef.

The shape of this wave is unlike any other known sea. It earned its name thanks to the oval pipes that form immediately after the linden strikes the reef.

But not every sea is perfect here. Most of the time, the waveform changes from set to set beyond recognition.

Ken Bradshaw, a North Shore surf veteran, refused to ride the sea when he came here with the Billabong Odyssey team. I think it says a lot.

The North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii is literally overrun with world-class surf spots, and just off Banzai Pipeline Beach is the cove that hides the grandmother of all these waves, Waimea.

Waimea is one of the first really giant tides conquered by the pioneers of giant tide surfing.

Many rumors and myths still swirl around her. This wave is one of the best waves for those who want to try giant wave surfing without the help of water scooters.

Waimea was taboo for the North Shore pioneers, but on November 7, 1957, Greg Knoll said “fuck it” and went into the water, followed by his friends: Mike Stange, Pat Curren, Fred Van Dyck (Fred Van Dyke) and Mickey Munoz (Mickey Munoz).

The biggest waves at this spot have been the ideal giant wave surfing for nearly 40 years.

One of the most respected big wave contests, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, is still held here, with the most giant waves exceeding 25 feet (8 meters).

Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational

More than one tragedy has occurred here, where a shoe break can break the neck, and the size can reach 60 feet (20 meters).

Waimea took the life of Dickie Cross in 1943, Donnie Solomon in 1999. And in 1989, the legendary Titus Kinimaka broke his femur in half after a particularly hard wipeout.

Pro-surfer and shaper Dennis Pang said the following about wipeouts in Waimea: “Underwater on Piplan everything is white, on Sunset it is gray. And when you mess in Waimea, everything is black. “

South Africa has the biggest waves, coldest water and constant shark encounters. No other spot combines these qualities as tightly as Dungeons, which is located in the Mouth of Hout in Cape Town.

During the southern hemisphere winter, the swells, which have crossed the entire South Atlantic, encounter numerous reefs in this bay, challenging surfers to battle.

Local surfer Grant Baker, also known as Twiggy, says this “wave is awe inspiring for many reasons.”

“The gigantic wave size, the power, the enormous cliffs surrounding the bay, some of the largest sharks known to man,” says Twiggy, “combine it all with a huge lineup the size of a football field, and you’ll understand why in this place surfing is very difficult – outside sets are constantly kept at bay, because they can catch you in the most disadvantageous position, and sharks are swimming somewhere nearby.”

You are constantly on edge when you surf here and your veins are shaking from start to finish every surf session.

the wedge california
The Wedge, California

Popular with surfers, bodyboarders and bodysurfers, The Wedge in northern California can sometimes produce triangular waves up to 30 feet (10 meters) high.

These waves are due to improvements to the stone pier on the west side of the Newport harbor entrance, which were carried out in the 30s of the last century.

During suitable conditions, when the wave approaches the shore at the right angle, it bounces off the dock, forming a second wave.

And when they collide, a new, unique wave is born, which during the collision can become twice as large as the usual waves on this spot.

The largest waves on the Wedge come during violent storms from the southern hemisphere in summer and autumn.

Plus, the sandy bottom of the beach rises very abruptly, forming a hefty shorebreak, and often a very strong reverse current forms here, which literally drags people into the water.

This current sometimes forms a reverse wave, which can hit a surfer or bather with incredible force.

The force of the waves can also pull those who simply lie on the sand and sunbathe into the water.

The biggest waves in Europe

In 2010, several giant names from the surfing world lit up in the city of Nazare, including Garret McNamara, Shane Dorian and Tiago Pires.

“Praia do Norte is the best secret in the world,” Garrett McNamara said of Nazare Beach. “There is no place in the world where you can be so close to giant waves.”

In November 2011, Garrett McNamara hit a record height of 78 feet (24 meters). On January 28, 2013, he returned to the spot and successfully rolled on a wave that was even larger.

In October of the same year, Carlos Burle rode on an even greater wave – today it is the largest wave in the world that a person rode.

On the same day, Maya Gabeira nearly drowned, grabbing a wipeout, during which she lost consciousness.


The most giant waves in Nazar are shaped by the features of the local coastline, as reported by Micah Sklut, founder of the Swellinfo.com surf forecasting website.

“There are big storms in the North Atlantic during the winter that send swells towards Europe,” says Mika, who also surfs himself.

Swell, who gave birth to the wave that McNamara rode, came from a storm off the coast of Ireland. But the main reason for the appearance of ideal waves in Nazare is a deep underwater canyon, which is like an arrow directed towards the city. “

nazare wave surfing

“Usually, when the swell approaches the shore, the wave begins to rise where it collides with a sharply decreasing depth. But in Nazar, the energy of the oceanic swells is focused in this canyon and amplified many times over.”

“So, at first, the depth is really great, and when the swell gets close to the shore, the canyon ends, and the energy of the swell, suddenly colliding with shallow water, raises the water very, very quickly, forming a wave of such a size that will impress any big wave surfer. ”

Oceanologist Hedrik Tolman compares the effect of a canyon to focusing light with a lens, and says there is no limit to the size of the wave there. He also says that waves much larger than 110 feet (33 meters) were seen at this location.

This concludes our story about the most giant waves for surfing. Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and there are many other giant waves in the world.

In addition, most likely, in the future, more of them will be discovered.

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