Gold Coast surfer Jamie Mitchell has claimed history, taking out the inaugural Big Wave Tour Nazaré Challenge in massive 35-foot-plus waves at the iconic Portuguese break.
“I have never made a final before today so to win is unreal, I knew I was close to doing well in a whole event,” Mitchell said.
“To put together a whole contest from start to finish is actually more exciting than just the win today. I felt comfortable out there, my board felt amazing and that gave me a bunch of confidence.”
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A capacity crowd of big-wave enthusiasts gathered by the landmark lighthouse on the point looking down at the biggest waves ever paddled in Portugal.
The 2016-2017 Big Wave season continues to deliver exciting action for the third event in Nazaré following the Puerto Escondido Challenge (won by Grant Baker) and the Pe’ahi Challenge (won by Billy Kemper) earlier this year.
Big Wave Tour commissioner Peter Mel, alongside the judging panel, allocated today’s conditions a “Silver Rating” with wave faces in the 35-to-45-foot category.
Today’s Final opened with an exciting first exchange between tour veteran Carlos Burle and newcomer Pedro Calado, Burle taking the nod and an early lead with a clean lefthander on his backhand and a 6.50.
Nic Lamb followed in dramatic fashion with two of the most horrific wipeouts seen all all season. Local wildcard Joao De Macedo struggled as well, air-dropping unsuccessfully into a monstrous set wave.
Halfway through the Final, Mitchell committed to an incredibly late drop on a lefthander, grabbing the rail of his board to engage into a bottom turn before being eaten by the mountain of white water behind him. Mitchell later surfaced with his equipment and was rewarded an excellent 8.67 for his effort, stealing the lead from Burle. The Australian quickly put a second score on the board to cement his lead and hold throughout the remainder of the Final.
The Australian walked away with his maiden Big Wave Tour victory at the Nazaré Challenge, a result earning 12,500 ranking points and rocketing him from 13th to 5th on the tour rankings.
“I got into a good rhythm at other events but lost it at some point, but this one I managed to keep it and it feels amazing,” he continued.
“I’m going to be here until Friday and it looks like there will be more giant waves coming, so I might just take a day to recover from today and try my luck again out there.”