While today was an historic day in big-wave surfing, it was owned by one of the most renowned waterman in the world. Australian Jamie Mitchell completely owned every single round of the first-ever big-wave Nazaré Challenge.
Not even 24-hours after Michel Bourez claimed the Billabong Pipe Masters and John Florence capped off his world title season with his third Triple Crown, the World Surf League needed to shift gears and run an inaugural big-wave contest at arguably the world’s most treacherous big-wave spot.
The 39-year-old Mitchell earned his first-ever victory on the Big Wave World Tour today in 35-to-45-foot surf in Portugal. Dominating every heat, Mitchell had the highest heat scores in all three rounds of the event, showing that putting in the time at Nazaré the last few months has paid off for him.
But the day was not without its brutal wipeouts in the massive surf. The likes of Damien Hobgood and Tom Butler both suffered horrendous wipeouts, reminding everyone that this is one of the most dangerous spots to surf.
“This was by far one of the most challenging big-wave events we’ve ever seen,” Big Wave World Tour commissioner Peter Mel said throughout the broadcast.
Mitchell himself even took a few cartwheels, as no one is immune to the heavy water aspect of Nazaré. One of the world’s best long distance paddlers, is now the first winner of the first Nazaré Challenge.
“Garrett [McNamara] hounded me to come over here a few years ago and I instantly fell in love with the place and these people,” Mitchell said during the awards ceremony. “Today was next-level. It was survival, it was just … heavy. I want to dedicate this to my wife and my little daughter who is just 15 months and to my mom and dad back in Australia watching.”
Nazaré Challenge Final Results
1. Jamie Mitchell 23.94
2. Carlos Burle 13.00
3. Joao De Macedo 10.84
4. Pedro Calado 9.34
5. Nic Lamb 3.00
6. Antonio Silva 0.20