Wave lovers are pushed towards the arms of the sea for the most disparate reasons: there are those looking for a break from city life, those who love to get in touch with nature and those who instead practice these sports for the adrenaline rush they cause and for the chase of the thrills of risk. Certain locations are certainly not suitable for amateur wave riders, but they require in-depth knowledge and a good dose of courage to tackle them. Have you ever wondered which are the highest waves ever ridden in the world and who are the tenacious athletes who successfully completed the feat? Small spoiler: we also find some Italians on the list!

Nazaré – Portugal

The location of excellence to face these miracles of nature at the table is Nazaré , in Portugal. The town, located on the Atlantic coast about 125 km from Lisbon and 250 km from Porto, until a few years ago was a quiet fishing village, not at all calculated on the tourist routes, until it was discovered by big wave riders. The particular geographical conformation of the oceanic coast of this country in fact involves the presence of an underwater canyon approximately 5000 meters deep, which allows the water to be charged with energy and give vent to the highest waves ever seen . So for a few years, hundreds of enthusiasts and photographers have been positioning themselves since the first light of the morning to conquer the best place to observe the swimmers throwing themselves into the arms of the sea and facing waves tens and tens of meters high.


Hugo Vau and the “Big Mama”

In January 2018 the Portuguese Hugo Vau entered the Guinness Book of Records after successfully riding his "Big Mama" surfboard: this was the name of the highest wave ever tamed, 35 meters high! The enthusiasts tried to accomplish the feat throughout the day, defying the weather and the violence of the waves: at a certain hour the situation became even more critical due to the lack of light and the gray mist that clouded the vision of the athletes and of spectators. Only in the late afternoon did the conditions become suitable again to attempt to accomplish the feat: Hugo was transported by a jet ski to the open sea, only to be left at the mercy of the Ocean and tame Big Mama with incredible mastery, writing a page of history.


Francisco Porcella – 2017

Also in Nazaré in 2017 it was the Italian American Francisco Porcella who rode the highest wave of the season, 25 meters, with his surfboard. It may come as a surprise that Francisco became a surfer "by chance": before falling in love with the waves he played football for the Cagliari team and dreamed of a future as a professional footballer. It was on the Sardinian coast that for the first time he saw the Hawaiian Quicksilver Team (a well-known surfing company) jousting on the crest of the wave, forever changing the trajectory of his life. After moving to Hawaii with his family, Francisco becomes a champion of the table and travels the world bringing great pride to our nation.


Nuno Stru – 2018

There are also numerous adventurous people who have decided to try their luck at kite surfing . In 2018 , again on the same coasts, Nuno Stru from Protoghese rode the highest wave by being dragged by the kite: 19 meters of water to be tackled only with balance and the strength of the wind .

Teahupoo – Tahiti-wiji-surf

Teahupoo – Tahiti

In the world there are numerous beaches that put on a show with extremely powerful waves : Teahupoo in Tahiti, Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania and Half Moon Bay in California are just some of the places most frequented by wave riders in search of adrenaline.

Italy has not yet created waves comparable to those of the oceanic coast (mainly due to the physical conformation of our coast and the direction of the Mediterranean winds), but there are still some places of great interest for enthusiasts: Levanto in Liguria , Porto Ferro in Sassari and Capo Mannu in Oristano currently attract the greatest number of adventurous Italians per year. Natural spectacles between our coasts.


The waves offer wonderful emotions and unexpected surprises. However, we must not forget that man is not the master of the sea and never will be: we can only meet him and appreciate the gifts he offers us. Even the victory on the highest wave ever seen by human eyes will never be the confirmation of man's victory over nature. Despite this, the wave rider continues to seek, even for just a few seconds, the adrenaline and thrill of hurtling along the crest of the wave with only the board to distance him from the natural power.

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