An Astonishing Day of Waves From Europe to Lake Tahoe

by Chris Dixon

Antonio Silva. Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal. December 11, 2014. Screen Grab: Humberto Santos/ASP/XXL 

It’s probably not escaped your your attention that there are currently two major storms lashing the western coasts of North America, where a big dent is being made in the worst California drought in at least 1200 yearsand Europe, where England and Scotland are being blitzed by one of the mightiest North Atlantic storms ever. The United Kingdom and Ireland have been raked by 80 mile per hour winds while Scotland’s remote St. Kilda Islands reported a gust of 144 miles per hour. The equivalent of a strong category 4 hurricane.

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Antonio Silva. Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal. December 11, 2014. Screen Grab: Humberto Santos/ASP/XXL 

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What this translated to for coastal towns farther south and out of the high wind zones, is a titanic pulse of surfable swell. In Spain, the Big Wave World Tour’s Punta Galea Challenge – a paddle in competition – was run in wild and woolly conditions. There, emerging Mavericks icon Nic Lamb put on a clinic in the finals, surviving a huge drop and one of the heaviest near-beatings imaginable on his way to a perfect ten-point ride. His recovery at the end is the stuff of legend.

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Nic Lamb on a detonating Spanish Bomb. Screen Grab. ASP/Big Wave World Tour. 

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Meanwhile down south in Nazaré, Portugal, a massive crowd gathered on the headland at Praia do Norte, the incredible beachbreak revealed a few years ago by Garrett McNamara. Today surely saw some of the biggest waves ever towed into there – or anywhere else.

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That Tiny Contrail is a Surfer. Screen Grab from YouTube. (Clip is below)

But in my mind, something almost equally amazing went down at Lake Tahoe. When the western storm raked the Sierra Nevada, it brought with it 100-plus mile per hour southerly gusts to the peaks. Despite being only 22 miles long, Tahoe is nearly 1000 feet deep. Throw hurricane force winds into the mix, and the lake’s cerulean waters come to resemble an inland ocean. To that end, we bring you a clip of Logan Knutzen ripping North Lake Tahoe.

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Screen Grab of Logan Knutzen filmed by . (Clip is below)


Below are a few other clips that capture the wonder of Nazaré. — CD

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