While the majority of Nazaré rescues go surprisingly smoothly, there’s one place in its vast wedging line up you don’t want to end up if you’re looking to get picked up by the ski and on a recent swell that’s exactly where veteran hell man Ross Clarke-Jones found himself.
The 51 year old, who has been defining the sport of big wave surfing for two decades, was out on a medium size day during his inaugural stint down in Portugal when he took a nasty wipeout and ended up washing in towards the rocks.
Here’s how he described the dramatic incident in an interview with Stab:
“Bailing off the wave I was pulled under the water for about 30 seconds, using my Quiksilver Airlift to inflate me to the surface I came up looking directly at the cave and rocks.
The rip was fast and strong, which dragged me straight into the danger zone – where no one can reach you on the jet skis as it’s shallow and covered in rocks. At this stage they said they couldn’t even see me.
I took another hit which washed me straight onto the rocks, hitting my side which rolled over the rocks. Completely out of breathe, I put myself into a safer area and hid behind a rock. Another set came in which dragged me in and out, exactly like a washing machine. Launching back into rocks I hit my head and side, forcing myself to stay conscious I had an instant flash back to when I was 12, my brother and I used to hide behind the rocks at Terrigal’s tube rock.
Clutching to the rocks I stayed there for a minute to get my breath back and to orientate myself.
As I watched the set coming towards me I waited then scrambled to the cliff to start scaling the 30 metre sheer drop up.
You know what you sign up for when you surf Nazare, I always have a hell of a time but this was a nice reminder that you never take it for granted. Especially on the smaller days like today where you can get complacent… it was a big mistake.”