Marcio Freire Mad Dog
Image: Instagram@marciofreiremaddog

Nazaré’s monster waves claim first fatality

Brazilian Márcio Freire was a giant wave legend

Tributes have been pouring in for Márcio Freire, the 47-year-old Brazilian giant wave legend who died at Nazaré’s iconic Praia do Norte yesterday afternoon.

As reports explain, Freire was among three pioneering Brazilian surfers who featured in the 2016 documentary Mad Dogs about their attempt to conquer the giant wave, known as “Jaws” in Hawaii.

He died following a fall as he was practising what has been described as “the last variant of the Nazaré Canyon”.

The canyon is rated as “one of the sport’s biggest and most terrifying challenges”, albeit local sources said conditions yesterday were “not particularly dangerous”. It has a depth of 5km, and is 170 km long, leading to the building up of huge swells.

As surfers from around the world took to social media to express their grief, authorities in Portugal had the terrible task of accompanying Freire’s family, including his parents, who were all in Nazaré yesterday after spending Christmas together.

Nazaré has become one of the ‘must surf’ spots for giant wave surfers, and is known for accidents, some of them worse than others. But this is the first time any surfer has died attempting the challenge.

Freire, was pulled from the sea already in cardio-respiratory arrest.

Sports photographer Fred Pompermayer wrote over Instagram: “Today we lost a great man, a very good friend and a legendary surfer, Marcio Freire. He was such a happy spirit, always with a smile on his face … Rest in peace my friend.”

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com