Big wave surfing: Portugal hopes to cash in

Since big wave surfing poster boy Garrett McNamara has been breaking records on Portuguese waves, the media has been making waves of its own. And Portugal, in the throws of an economic crisis, has hoped to benefit from all the attention.

Never mind that giant waves are extremely dangerous and no one should really be surfing them. In fact, not that many people are – big wave surfing is the domain of dare devils. Normal surfing, especially at the expert or pro level, is daring enough. Besides big wave surfing locales like Nazaré, (which is a great place to look at waves, just not ride them) Portugal is home to at least 500 surf spots. Ericeira, one of only a handful of World Surfing Reserves, has at least 36 – all in close proximity to each other.

But who can blame Portugal’s tourism office for using the media buzz around big wave surfing to hype its fantastic, albeit not particularly famous beaches? Big wave surfing is hot. There’s even a Hollywood movie about it. It’s called Chasing Mavericks and stars Scottish actor Gerard Butler of 300 fame. Judging only from the trailer it’s pretty shit. Maybe that’s not fair, but I won’t be seeing it unless it’s being shown on a long flight I happen to be on. And my laptop’s battery is dead. And I’ve got nothing to read and can’t sleep. Check out the trailer and judge for yourself. (By the way, this reviewer liked it).

Anyway, who cares? Big wave surfing is attracting more people to the sport, which is a good thing. Unless you hate “noobs” and posers or are a total snob. Or if you hate crowded beaches. Never mind, there’s nothing you can do about it. Once the guy from Radiohead and dogs started surfing the floodgates officially opened. I mean, what the hell, they’re even doing it in the United Arab Emirates – Surfing UAE!

Big wave surfing

Big wave surfing hero Jeff Rowley in Maui, pic: Minnie Vuong,

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