Friday, 31 March 2023

Surfing … Big v Small (film) – Nazaré, Portugal ...

 

I'd often wondered about the draw of the Portuguese coast's Nazaré monster surfing waves – but had never been inquisitive enough to look further …


Monster breaking wave at the end
of the underwater Nazaré canyon

What was it … and why were the waves so big …? well now I know – and so will you in a few hundred words!




A recent Film Society Film 'Big v Small' explained a great deal, as well as opening my eyes to how we can tame the fears inside us … under the ice in Finland.


Holding our breath for any length of time for most of us is nigh impossible … and we all have fears of some sort … perhaps mostly hidden from our friends and the outside world.


Joana Andrade
Joana Andrade, the Portuguese surfer featured, is of tiny proportions – not obviously hugely tenuous … yet this film shows us what can be achieved – by an intrepid character … her comment from Surfer Today just explains her attitude to life:



"I am a small woman - 1.56 meters tall - and not very muscular. My strength comes from the head through a lot of meditation and breathing exercises. I train at home to relax, connect with my inside and find the way to trust myself."


The 'Oeste' Administrative
area on the coast of Portugal

Growing up on the Oeste coastline – about half-way up Portugal's coast – Joana, as many a normal kid would do, rebelled against her mother … no surfing … not in those waves … but Joana had other thoughts. Typical rebellious kid!




She looked and looked at those huge breakers, while improving her paddle-board surfing skill along the coast … at that stage: self-propelled with her surfboard.


Tow-in Surfers shown on the waves
The technique of tow-in surfing came about in the 1990s … when a surfer is towed by a partner into a breaking wave – using a Jet Ski or helicopter. It was pioneered in Hawaii …



Monster surfing waves are found in Hawaii, off California and Nazaré, Portugal … there are other notable big wave surfing spots. These waves could only be caught using the tow-in method …



Joana Andrade surfing a giant wave
This was when waves over 30 feet (9 metres) were beyond the bounds of a surfer … after the tow-in method evolved waves over 50 feet (15 metres) could be surfed …


The ups and downs of 'tow- in surfing fashion' has in the last five decades or so – opened up other areas … one of which is Nazaré – where the waves break really close to the shore … the area known as Praia do Norte (Nazaré).


Geomorphology of
Nazare's underwater canyon
The Nazaré underwater Canyon … is the largest submarine canyon in Europe … reaching depths of about 5,000 metres (16,00 feet) along a length of about 230 kilometres (140 miles). 


There are three distinct sections … one of which I must remember to mention when I get back to my English Language post/s.



Another problem was holding one's breath should one fall out of a wave, as another huge wave would be waiting to break, with perhaps a third soon behind …


Johanna Nordblad - under the ice
So on searching for help … Joana came across another … in this case … Johanna Nordblad from Finland – who is an ice diver, and freediver – who also holds the static breath record of 6 minutes 35 seconds.




They went to Finland to help Joana Andrade hold her breath for longer, as well as overcoming her fear of being submerged … in this case under the ice for a period of time …


Fort of Sao Miguel Arcanjo (1577)

Mind over matter … something at that level beyond my desire to attain … but the film was very intriguing and very absorbing.



The links fill in or add to the informational spaces …

Big v Small IMDb documentary film ...

Portuguese Joana Andrade - article in Surfer Today ... 

Free Diver, Ice Diver from Finnish Johanna Nordblad ...

Adding another link I'd forgotten about: From Cambridge University about 'cold shock' being tested for its value with various diseases". I can't seem to provide a link - but if you're interested ... please type in the sentence below and you'll be sent to the link.

Scientists in Cambridge and Berlin have used a form of gene therapy to increase levels of the so-called ‘cold shock protein’ in the brains of mice, protecting them against the potentially devastating impact of prion disease.

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

28 comments:

jabblog said...

Fascinating facts. Your post has inspired me to breathe deeply - but not for too long;-)
The thought of being trapped under ice fills me with dread.

Hels said...

I understand adults can do whatever they like, as long as it is legal. But Joana's mother was quite right! Holding your breath when falling out of a wave, while another huge wave is behind waiting to kill you .. is enough to drive any normal parent to distraction. But tow-in surfing, when a surfer is towed by a partner into a breaking wave, sounds even worse.

Keith's Ramblings said...

This makes the surfers off our beach seem very tame - although having just been down to the beach, I wouldn't recommend anyone to launch themselves off there today!

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
I love to watch surfing films and have been waiting for this one to become accessible somewhere online (had seen it reviewed in the Guardian about six months back)... it might be a while before I get to see it. But thank you for the links to fill the gap!!! YAM xx

Kathy G said...

Fascinating activities, but nothing I would take on.

Elephant's Child said...

I love the range of your posts.
I am not tempted by the activities mentioned here (wimps of the world unite?) but loved reading about them.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Hi Hilary: I think she is clearly cut from a different cloth from most of us! I think I will eschew learning how to hold my breath for extended periods of time, take a pass on surfing, definitely stay out of icy water, and continue to live my dull, ordinary life. Could you passs the cheese and crackers, please. They go so well with this lovely Merlot! I'll hold my breath for just a moment while I swirl it in my mouth. Hugs from Ontario - David

Friko said...

Are you joking? I get scared just looking at the pictures of the waves and ice.
Very inspirational, or not....

Liz A. said...

You have to be an experienced surfer to attempt waves like those. I am not even a beginning surfer. (It's funny. I live close enough to some great surfing areas, like a few miles down the road is a place where they hold a big surfing tournament once a year, but I never took up the sport.)

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Fascinating, Hilary, absolutely fascinating - as usual. Fabulous photos - especially the one of Joana Andrade surfing a giant wave!

Sandra Cox said...

Have a good weekend, Hils.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Janice - yes ... I thought I should make an effort to breathe more deeply - just enough to improve physical life. But I agree being trapped under ice - doesn't impress me, nor caving - in water or above ground ...

@ Hels - I know bringing up children must be challenging (not having had the pleasure of doing it) ... one has to set sensible parameters. But looking at those enormous waves - I'd avoid trying it. Tow-in surfing has to be one of the ultimate 'thrills' ...

@ Keith - I know walking along the seafront here and seeing those usually timid knee high waves doesn't inspire surfing - while the recent wind has been awful ... I could hardly stand up.

@ Yam - oh that's fascinating you'd seen the review in the Guardian and are looking forward to seeing the film ... the links really give an idea - but the film is the whole - it was wonderful.

@ Kathy - thanks for visiting ... we tried surfing as kids with a board decades ago ... and enjoyed ourselves for one or two summers. I don't think any of us are very good swimmers.

@ EC - thanks - I just enjoy selecting posts that others probably haven't necessarily come across. Definitely wimps of the world unite. But I did enjoy the film ... and hearing them talk through the challenges.

@ David - I'll join you for a glass of Merlot with some cheese and crackers ... while I don't get nightmares thinking about those enormous waves.

You don't live a dull life - but probably spend more time with birds than many of us (and of course a great deal of time with your wife!) ... however I'd love to spend time with you both ... one day perhaps.

@ Friko - yes or no ... I wasn't joking - I just hadn't come across the Nazare Canyon ... so was really interested to learn about it and its effect on the ocean - creating those enormous waves so close to shore. I'm glad you 'enjoyed' reading about this sport!

@ Liz - there are huge waves along your coast .. if you're a good swimmer, but I'm definitely not, I guess you'd have been tempted. But most of us know our limits ... It might be worth visiting one of the surfing tournaments one year - perhaps!

@ Mike - thanks ... all photos borrowed ... but they do bring the post to life. I'd love to visit Nazare ...

@ Sandra - I hope you're having a good time ...

Thanks for visiting - enjoy your surfing weekend! Cheers Hilary

Anabel Marsh said...

Rather her than me! And like another commenter, I was filled with dread at the thought of being trapped under ice or water. Enclosure and not being able to get out is one of my worst nightmares!

Sue Bursztynski said...

I love to watch surfing, though I don’t think I’d have the sense of balance needed to do it. But a beautiful sport!

Jacqui Murray said...

More places I will never go to except through you.

Again, my WP didn't tell me about your post. Sigh.

Debbie D. said...

It takes a lot of courage and skill to attempt such things. I'll stay on dry land, thanks, but enjoyed reading about Joana and her training process.

Deborah Weber said...

Entirely fascinating - I learned a great deal about things I'd never really thought about before. But as much as I love watching waves, I doubt you'll ever find me riding any.

Chrys Fey said...

I've seen the tow-in technique on movies and a documentary about Bethany Hamilton on Netflix. The waves these surfers surf is amazing. Scary, but amazing. I could not hold my breath for that long.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Anabel - I know ... definitely not me! I so agree re the 'being trapped' ... I quiver at the thought ...

@ Sue - yes watching is easy - while doing is another thing. I love the seas and sport etc ...

@ Jacqui - sorry about the lack of notice re posts ... I must do something about it. I'm just happy you're here looking at what I put up ... thank you!

@ Debbie - Exactly I enjoyed the watching - while the learning about the subject fascinated me ...

@ Deborah - I wondered about the history of surfing, yet was fascinated to read up about the underwater canyon which enable those mega-surfing waves ...

@ Chrys - I've seen clips on surfing but this was the first documentary-film I'd watched. As you say ... scary but amazing. I can't hold my breath for very long ... as long as necessary to stay alive: I guess!

Cheers and thanks so much to you all - delighted to see you here ... all the best Hilary

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Scary and amazing all at once! I didn't even think about the need to be able to hold one's breath for a long time!

Dan said...

I can almost imagine diving under the ice (although I have no desire). But riding on top of a fifty-foot wave with one or two others following me toward the rocks is beyond my imagination. I'd have to move into nightmare territory for that. Thanks for the information and the links.

mail4rosey said...

I know you're supposed to tackle your fears head on but I don't know about being submerged under ice. She's very determined and brave. Interesting feature.

Sandra Cox said...

Can you imagine surfing a 50 foot wave? Yikes.

Joanne said...

Mind over matter is a tough one for someone who way overthinks things. I love surfing documentaries and I find the ability to surf fascinating. Human vs Mother Nature's water force - wow - tough to conquer. Excellent post and I shall look for this doc. (But shall still not be a surfer. Lack of balance - my butt vs my mind - yep - that's a sinker)

Annalisa Crawford said...

Wow, it's incredible how people can overcome their fears. Our local waves are much tamer - on the south east coast of Cornwall - so we don't get a lot of surfers. Though some seem to manage on 1 foot waves. I could probably manage that, nothing bigger!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elizabeth - I used to try as a kid ... not for very long at all. So not my scene either ...

@ Dan - I'm not sure I could do freezing cold submersions - but obviously Finnish Johanna was a very good teacher for Portuguese Joana. While I give the sea lots and lots of respect - but at 50 feet I'd be at heart-attack mode! Yes - I'd get another nightmare scenario ... I've one where I have to jump into a huge cavern to continue on my journey - and that was 50 years ago ... it still appears in my sleep-consciousness.

@ Rosey - yes ... we are aren't we - we need to tackle them head on. Mostly I do. But of course if the passion was there - then we'd need to overcome that major fear.

@ Sandra - no ... I couldn't even imagine surfing a ten foot wave ... Yikes would be the word!

@ Joanne - Mind over Matter can be tough ... I'm glad I don't overthink things - I just do or not, as the case may be. Delighted to see you love this sort of movie ... Mother Nature's water force is a power to be appreciated ... 21 feet (7 metres) deep is considered to be enough for most people.

Enjoy the film when you get to watch it - and perhaps I too should consider my butt - but my balance is ok!!

@ Annalisa - we had a surfing holiday yonks ago at Polzeath ... and for that year had lots of fun - it was reasonably warm I think. We were kids ... and like you a small wave with a tummy board would be fine!

Thanks everyone for coming by - this was such an informative film, post and extra via your comments - much appreciated - cheers Hilary

Rhodesia said...

Rather her than me. It is odd I love swimming but I hate swimming in the sea and I dislike saltwater. Each for their own. Cheers Diane

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane - yes ... definitely not for me and I'm not that keen a swimmer - but I'd love to be able to have the courage to take on these sort of challenges! Cheers Hilary