Portugal to capitalise on surf record

Tourism authorities in Portugal are to capitalise on a recent surfing record that was set in the nation, in order to boost tourism.

Portugal took the opportunity to promote its beaches when Hawaiian extreme surfer, Garrett McNamara, broke a world record this week by catching an, estimated, 100-foot wave off the Portuguese fishing village of Nazare. Now tourism officials are working overtime to capitalise on the development and attract more surfers like McNamara to the waves.

The tourism department is also turning to good use the negative publicity that the coast around Nazare has traditionally had. There is a saying that in Nazare, ‘the ocean is known as a place of death, not of riding waves.’ Now, the department is looking to use the saying as a challenge to promote the area to intrepid surfers.

Portugal’s tourism office said, ‘We have 450 miles of clean Atlantic coastline and some surfing beaches that are out of this world.’ The department was not exaggerating, because the unique geography of Nazare creates giant waves that are truly out of this world. Even though the country’s Algarve and Cortegaca regions draw plenty of surfers, it is Nazare’s giant waves that give seasoned surfers a true rush of adrenalin.

Climatologists offer many reasons for the huge waves that are common in the region. Some believe that big storms in the North Atlantic during the winter push swells toward Europe. Added to this is the fact that Nazare has a 1,600-foot-deep undersea canyon, which points like an arrow toward the town, and there are enough scientific reasons to explain the giant waves that can strike awe into those who set out to capture them. Water travelling over the canyon is calm due to its depth, and when the waves crash into the shallow shore they have nowhere to go but straight up. This happens so suddenly that the effect is awesome. Nazare’s waves also have another unique selling point, wave riders come very close to the cliff, which adds to the thrill.

McNamara said, ‘There is nowhere in the world even remotely like it for enjoying the power and size of waves so close. It is mesmerizing to sit on the cliff and watch the waves and there is nowhere like it. But all I feel is that we will be able to share this place with a few more people.’