Think of your sports' most terrifying theater—the big one at Talladega, an unblocked Lawerence Taylor, Jake Brown dropping from the damn sky. That's what Nazare is to surfing. A holy ground of trial and tempest, each year big wave surfers from around the globe gather at the Portuguese hot bed to risk life and limb in pursuit of death, demons, or, most likely, some combination of the two.
If that sounds dramatic, that's because careening down an 80-foot, ship-killing water-scraper on what essentially amounts to a toothpick is, in fact, pretty dramatic. But don't take our word for it. You won't find us within 100 yards of the Nazare breakers. Just ask Rodrigo Koxa, who laid claim to the largest wave ever surfed in the history of humankind when the footage of his November descent premiered at the World Surf League Big Wave Awards this weekend:
What you see here is a Brazilian maniac dropping into the tsunami-manifestation of Davy Jones's locker, and somehow living not only tell the tale, but also accept to an award for it. And as if that's not crazy enough, according to Koxa, he dreamt it all the night before in some sort of bizarro collision of Point Break and Final Destination:
I had an amazing dream the night before, where I was talking to myself, ‘You gotta go straight down. You gotta go straight down.’ I didn’t really know what it meant. But I figured somebody was talking to me. When I got my wave, I let go of the rope, I started to use my rail to angle towards the shoulder, but then realized, if I used my rail, I’d never get deep. And then I remembered: ‘go straight down.’ When I said it, I remembered my dream. I turned and I almost fell, but then I got my feet again and went super fast. I’ve never had a big wave like that where I didn’t use the rail at all. Just went straight down. It was amazing.
What would have happened if he hadn't been graced with that premonition? Unfortunately we don't have to guess. Here's Andrew Cotton, who, at the same spot on the same day, veered left into a collapsing lip instead of turning straight down and hitting the gas. His punishment? A broken back, which, all things considered, seems pretty lucky: