Last Updated on June 2, 2023 by Matt
3-4 Minute Read
We recently chatted to Welsh big wave hellman, Glyn Ovens about surfing huge waves, and the intricacies of Nazaré, Portugal.
Hey Glyn, thanks for taking the time to chat to us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your relationship with Nazare, Portugal?
“I am from a small village in Mid Wales, in the UK – the land of the two footer!
Nazaré was part of a journey, which started on some very non big-waves in Wales, but then progressing onto Ireland, The Canaries, Africa, Indo, Hawaii as well as some hidden Cornish gems.
I have been learning and improving all along the way. The ocean always challenges us, and this is a never-ending dance, if you can keep up!”
You’ve spent a lot of time in heavy ocean conditions at renowned big wave spots, how does Nazare compare?
“Nazaré has a momentary power that can only be described by a lot of superlatives. When the wave bends into the iconic pyramids and peaks, it is at that point where the energy climaxes.
The energy in big waves, irrelevant of spot is always phenomenal, this place though has an extra level of spice:
The peaks are continually in different places, making you the prey, even on a jetski.”
How essential is the water safety crew on a big day at Nazare?
“The shiftiness of the spot means the channel is there one minute and no longer there the next. Rescues and pickups (after riding a wave) are tricky at best and very time critical.
Having a backup safety ski and rescue crew is a necessary redundancy if you wish to limit ‘beatdowns’ and lost equipment, which most of us do.”
What is the key to successfully surfing Nazare?
“Like all surf spots, the more time you spend there in and around the break, the better you learn to understand the spot. This is the starting point.
To be part of a successful team, you also need to know how to navigate a ski, competently, in and out of the surf zone, including negotiating large lumps of whitewater.”
What is the most challenging part of surfing Nazare?
“Managing the adrenaline and avoiding getting clipped by the crosswedges that are a main feature of the break. If you get it wrong there is a decent list of things that can result:
Long hold downs, being knocked out, hit by your board, hit by a ski, getting washed into the rocks or caves, or getting sucked over the falls once, twice, or more, but other than that, it’s pretty straight forward!”
Who are the best surfers out there?
“Only me, everyone else is terrible, haha. But seriously, there are many very able surfers out there, some are getting great waves, and others not so much as this is all down to the driver knowing the spot and getting the positioning dialled.
There are too many great surfers to mention them all, but the key standouts to watch for are:
But basically any decent day out there the dedicated crew will be shredding, and there are always some amazing rides going down.”
Can you describe the emotions and sensations you experience when you realize you are in position for the biggest wave of the day?
“When you are in the right position for the set, like at any spot, at any size, you are trying to manage your emotions:
Don’t mess it up, hold your ground, you got this!
The size element is a tricky one, as it is fairly subjective, but when the wave stands up and bends out of the canyon toward you, you know it’s going to be bomb!
Thanks for your time Glyn, would you have any final advice for our readers who would like to learn more about surfing Nazaré?
Surfing big waves should be from the heart. In the current clickbait and instant gratification World we are in, reasons for doing things can easily become blurred.
If you have a passion for catching a challenging wave, irrelevant of the presence of cameras, then you have a good starting point for riding waves that have a life-threatening element to them.
If you feel this is you, then keep going, keep your focus, stay fit, train, surf and avoid distractions, maybe one day I will see you out there!
Check out Glyn on Instagram here