Surfing-Brazilian ‘Mad Dog’ Freire killed in Nazare

(This Jan. 5 story has been corrected to change Garrett McNamara’s nationality to American in paragraph 8)

LISBON (Reuters) – Veteran Brazilian surfer Marcio Freire died on Thursday while practising tow-in surfing on the giant waves in Nazare on the central coast of Portugal, the local maritime authority said.

Support staff on jet-skis managed to get the 47-year-old to the beach, but all attempts to revive him failed.

Freire was one of the three Brazilian surfers who became known as the “Mad Dogs” after conquering the giant wave “Jaws” in Hawaii. They featured in the 2016 documentary Mad Dogs.

Tributes from other surfers poured in on Instagram.

“He surfed all day with a big smile on his face. That’s how I’ll keep him in my memory. Legend,” posted fellow big wave surfer Nic von Rupp.

“Today we lost a great man, a very good friend and a legendary surfer, Marcio Freire. He was such a happy spirit, always with a smile on his face…Rest in peace my friend,” wrote sports photographer Fred Pompermayer.

Nazare boasts some of the biggest waves in the world. They are magnified by an underwater canyon 5km (three miles) deep which ends where the North Atlantic meets the shoreline near the former fishing village.

American Garrett McNamara put Nazare on the map in 2011 when he set a world record for the biggest wave ever surfed at 78 feet (23.77 metres).

Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa bettered McNamara’s mark in 2017, also at Nazare, and German Sebastian Steudtner broke the record again there in 2020, surfing an 86-feet (26.21-metre) wave.

(Reporting by Andrei Khalip, Catarina Demony, editing by Ed Osmond)

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