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How big were the waves at Nazare in Portugal on Thursday? No one really seems to know. "Well, I got the biggest wave of my life," Benjamin Sanchis told GrindTV, "and the biggest wipeout." Sanchis won the 2011 XXL Biggest Wave Award with a wave at Belharra in France that was measured at 66 feet, so it is safe to say it was bigger than that.
"We’re waiting for the experts to make the call on the size," said photographer Alex Laurel, who took the image of Sancho below, "but how big would you call that wave? The one who gets the right number gets a free print of the photo!"
Portugal's Antonio Silva was another who scored the biggest wave of his life, and perhaps the largest of the session. However, his day was full of drama as he was later rescued by Garrett McNamara when he and partner Rodrigo Koxa's ski was swamped on the inside. "Antonio was caught inside and getting near the rocks, so his days were looking numbered," U.K. surfer Andrew Cotton told GrindTV. "It was a very heavy situation."
Cotton, along with Garrett McNamara, pioneered big-wave surfing at Nazare and is one of the best people to gauge the size of this swell compared to others. "It's always difficult to measure, but this swell has to be up there with the other huge swells when Garrett scored his record and the other when Maya Gabeira almost drowned," said Cotton. "There were a few sets that were definitely some of the biggest lumps of ocean I have ever seen. And late in the day, Hugo Vao scored a top-to-bottom left that was monstrous."
We might leave it to the various experts to try to ascertain the exact size of the waves ridden, but as these photos show, it’s clear that on December 11, 2014, Nazare further cemented its unique place in the big-wave world.
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