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In the famous 1966 surf movie The Endless Summer, Mike Hynson and Robert August follow the sun from hemisphere to hemisphere to catch warm-water waves. Big-wave surfers generally take a different tact, tracking winter storms that produce the world’s biggest swells — with none bigger than the one found at Nazaré, Portugal.


Nazaré is one of the best places in the world for big-wave surfing and it attracts Australia’s best, like Ross Clarke-Jones and Andrew Cotton.

Big-wave surfing at Nazaré, Portugal

Powered by the underwater Nazaré Canyon, the waves can grow to heights in excess of 100 feet (30 meters). Too big to paddle into, surfers rely on a jet-skiing partner to pull them into the wave and extract them from the ocean after a wipe out.


While the official Guinness World Record for the Largest Wave Surfed is still the 78-foot monster ridden by Garrett McNamara (USA) on November 1, 2011, 51-year-old Clarke-Jones tackled a towering wave in January of this year that is under review for the honor.