When most of us check the surf report, we pay attention to wave size, swell period, swell direction, tide, wind speed and wind direction. Fog, however, is usually an unexpected factor that can sneak up on you and is difficult to forecast. In this case, New York’s Cliff Skudin, Hawaii’s Kealii Mamala and Andrew Cotton out of the UK met up with Garret McNamara, and an international team of big wave surfers chased a huge swell to one of the most prestigious big wave spots in the world: Nazare, Portugal. This is the same wave that Garret surfed when he set the world record for the largest wave ever ridden.
NYSEA caught up with Cliff for a few questions:
NYSEA – What went down that day with the surf and fog?
Cliff – ” When we checked the surf in the morning of the big swell it was hands down the biggest heaviest surf I’ve ever seen. Huge, easily 60 foot faces top to bottom crashing in perfection. The ocean had so much power and mist was spitting in our faces as we were checking the surf above the waves from the lighthouse. Right after, as we got our boards and headed out on the skis the fog came in. We couldn’t surf because of the safety factor. With fog so heavy you can easily lose site of your partner. We sat on the skis for a few hours hoping the fog would lift. I watched mountains of waves rolling into Nazare from the channel, then we headed into shore to try and wait it out. The fog finally lifted in the late afternoon and we all got a few waves, but nothing like we had seen earlier in the day. The swell dropped but we still surfed the inside. It’s really powerful with huge rips and whitewater coming in from all directions. I got caught inside after I pulled into one and got pounded until I made it to shore. Garrett picked me up and Kealii, Andrew Cotton and myself all got a few more before the end of the day. Super fun session! “
Special thanks to his safety team of Nazare locals: “Pitbull,” Pedro and Garrett’s wife Nicole for all looking out on the cliff with radio contact. As sets were approaching it was very helpful to get the bird’s eye view of them approaching, and when someone was caught on the inside they were able to keep an eye on us.
NYSEA- How was Portugal all together ?
Cliff – ” Portugal was an amazing trip, I never thought I would have this experience. It’s amazing how Garret’s determination of riding the biggest wave has helped shape a town and change the lives of so many who have prospered from it. He is humble and grateful and super fun to be around. He doesn’t act above anyone and is always in great spirits, living life to the fullest and so happy with his wife Nicole and his newborn “Baby Barrel.” I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity to travel and visit these amazing people in this beautiful country. “