Garrett McNamara on a ’90FT’ wave with our very own Andrew Cotton and Al Mennie

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Garrett McNamara has claimed to have made history, by again breaking the current record of the biggest wave ever surfed. The wave, in Nazaré, came during the two month period of the ZON North Canyon Show 2011, with a height of around 90 feet (around 30 meters).

He was towing with Andrew Cotton (from UK) and (from Ireland) at Praia do Norte, when the bomb came in. Al was in the channel and describes the moment. “Everything seemed to be perfect, the weather, the waves. Both Cotty and I rode two big ones in the 60 ft plus range and then, when Garrett got on the rope a wave, maybe 30 feet. bigger came out of the canyon, it was meant to be. I had the best seat in the house as I was doing water safety on the ski as he dropped down the face of the biggest wave I’ve ever seen. It was incredible. Most people would look scared but Garrett looked in control as he went down the most critical part of the wave. It was an inspirational ride by an inspirational surfer. After the ride it was as if the sea calmed down. We sat out there and just absorbed both what had just happened and the surroundings. What a day!”

The three were surfing in Praia do Norte off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal, McNamara has been spending quite some time here once he discovered the magic of the spot. The coast of Nazaré is home to one of the only deep water canyons that runs all the way to shore. He has been working with the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute to understand how the waves reach such an abnormal height.

According to the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute, “the proximity of the ‘Nazaré Canyon’ to Praia do Norte creates a situation that greatly increases the swells intensity. The conditions of the swell and wind direction observed on this day exemplify this phenomenon”. “By (9:00 AM), the monitor on the buoys registered a swell with around 8 m near Nazaré. With a WNW swell direction with favorable wind, it is reasonable to conclude that this wave had a significant swelling effect which is characteristic of this place”

“I feel so blessed and honored to have been invited to explore this canyon and its special tow. The waves here are such a mystery”, says Garrett.

ZON North Canyon Show 2011

Garrett McNamara is back in Portugal to embark on another mission exploring the waves of Nazaré, in the ZON North Canyon Show 2011. This is the second mission of a three years project, initiated last year. This is a Nazaré City Hall and ZON project to internationally promote the region as a destination for surfing, show casing the unique aspects of the “Nazaré Canyon”.

The “Nazaré Canyon” is a rare geographical phenomenon, the biggest in Europe and one of the largest in the world, which can be explained as a gap on the continental plate with 170 kilometers of length and 5 kilometers of depth. The “Nazaré Canyon”, that is located right in front of Praia do Norte, receives the swells from the Atlantic Ocean and creates waves with abnormal size, compared to the rest of the Portuguese coast.

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