Underneath Nazaré’s roiled surface lurks an ocean floor with a sadistic bathymetry. Like a science fiction apparatus capable of physically magnifying an object into a large novelty version of itself, Nazaré’s deep submarine canyon blows waves up to preposterous sizes. However, Nazaré is not a novelty wave, especially when paddling into its pyramids.

When the 2018 Nazaré Challenge was green lit, it seemed unlikely that we’d see the big-wave break in classic form, but it’d still put on a hell of a show. Before things got underway, Big Wave World Tour Commissioner Mike Parsons summarized the event’s forecast thusly:

“At this point, we’ll look for building, longer period NW swell through the morning on Saturday, with 20- to 35-foot-plus faces. The swell looks to peak around mid-day and hold over the afternoon with solid 25- to 35-foot-plus faces and occasional sets to 40-foot-plus faces. There will also be some short period NW swell running in the morning, which will give the surf at least somewhat of a jumbled feel, but that short period swell will ease through the day. Wind, while not ideal, does look manageable. Offshore to side-offshore flow from the NE to NNE is currently expected in the morning in the 10- to 15-knot range, trending to sideshore north at 15 plus knots from late morning through the afternoon.”

Within the first ten minutes of the first heat of the day, a jersey was already stained with blood and a capsized jetski ghost rode some white wash all the to the way to the beach.

Portugal national Joao De Macedo had taken off on the first wave of the event when strong offshore wind caused him to, in commentator Joe Turpel’s words, “wheelie off the top of an absolute beast.” After getting his board blown out from underneath him, Macedo took a brutal beating and came to the surface with his inflation vest deployed and a bloodied face. After a quick medical check he went back out to finish the heat.

Just as predicted three days ago when the event was green lit, the winds kicked up this morning and turned Nazaré into what commentator Strider Wasilewski described as “Smashville.” Only a handful of waves were ridden in the second heat of the day due to the dramatic change in conditions. However, big-wave veteran Peter Mel managed to knife a hulking left-hander for the heat win.

Parsons put the event on hold and eventually called it off for the day after the second heat and announced the the event will start back up tomorrow morning. “There will still be solid swell and the forecast projects that there will be lighter winds,” Parsons said. “It was just too dangerous with the winds. The surfers could not get down the face. Their feedback was that it was way too hazardous out there.”

Nazaré Challenge Round One Results (Heats 1 – 2):
Heat 1: Lucas Chianca (BRA) 17.63, Billy Kemper (HAW) 16.33, Nathan Florence (HAW) 14.31, João de Macedo (PRT) 11.56, Hugo Vau (PRT) 9.43, Pedro Calado (BRA) 7.13
Heat 2: Peter Mel (USA) 15.43, Alex Botelho (PRT) 14.23, Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 9.66, Tom Butler (GBR) 3.14, Carlos Burle (BRA) 0.00, Aaron Gold (HAW) 0.00

Nazaré Challenge Remaining Round One Matchups:
Heat 3: Kai Lenny (HAW), Makuakai Rothman (HAW), Cristian Merello (CHL), Francisco Porcella (ITA), Natxo Gonzalez (EUK), Nic von Rupp (PRT)
Heat 4: Grant Baker (ZAF), Nic Lamb (USA), Tom Lowe (GBR), Ian Walsh (HAW), Antonio Silva (PRT), Kealii Mamala (HAW)