Whilst the hunt is on for the hero surfer from Lagos (August 10, 2017), we should be seriously looking at how a near drowning incident took place on what was once the Algarve’s most pictured postcard beach.
Praia Dona Ana underwent sand remediation during 2015/2016 when POLIS identified the stunningly scenic beach as a hot spot zone for crumbling cliff activity. With funding from the European Union (Euro2M), this stretch of pristine coastline was rapidly transformed from the best in Europe to a soulless patch of sandy shell fragments.
Two years on and coastal dynamics have produced cliff-like erosion escarpments where the wave undertow has rapidly stripped away poor-quality sand. During periods of high waves (as experienced on July 4), water is pushed up the beach face hitting these steep steps. But as the waves hit the escarpment the water has nowhere to dissipate and needs to escape back out to sea with the resulting backflow finding the easiest route, creating a localised rip current. This is what Dylan Wazacz was unfortunately trapped in (not a rip tide).
Warning signs should be posted at Praia Dona Ana with the stationed lifeguard more alert to such events and informing the general public of this potential beach hazard before somebody ends up as fatality. The irony is that the government’s response to keeping tourists away from crumbling cliffs has now resulted in a far greater threat to a larger number of swimming tourists by the creation of a dangerous profiled beach.
Charles Frew MSc