Hugo Vau and ‘Big Mama’: “surfing at 70 km / h on the mother of all waves”

Ride the biggest wave ever recorded on a surfboard. This is what Hugo Vau, a 41-year-old Portuguese professional surfer, activist / ecologist, did in Nazarè, a town about a hundred kilometers north of Lisbon which for some years has become the capital of tow-in surfing, the the most extreme discipline of surfing, practiced by a small club of athletes who challenge the giants of the sea. A wall of water of over 35 meters, called the “Big Mama” of all ocean waves. “I was descending from that wave at a speed of about 70 km / h thinking ‘you must not fall’. Fear? Yes, it is part of human nature, but respect for the ocean allows me to dominate it”, said Vau .

“You have to adapt to each wave. I focus on the moment to make sure that the fear does not spread, thinking that I am doing what I like”, explained seraphic the surfer who was the protagonist of a meeting at the Genoa Boat Show for the presentation of “Surfing among the giants of the Ocean: interview with Hugo Vau”, a book written by the journalist Fabio Pozzo. The 208-page volume focuses on the feat made on January 17, 2018 by Vau, who tow-in the biggest wave ever in Nazarè, the Big Mama, which forms in front of the cliff of the famous lighthouse. “It was like coming down from a mountain with a snowboard and with an avalanche behind”, he will say at the end of an experience without equal, the Portuguese to make the idea of ​​what has been done.

To implement such a feat, we try to define all the protections possible for the surfer who is carried on the wave by a jet ski. “You need athletic training, but above all mental training. Different types of protections are foreseen, the first is your own team. There is another man with a jet ski who is ready to come and recover,” or at least hopefully so “, the champion added jokingly. “When you fall in waves like the rest it’s like being hit by a column of water and then finding yourself in a washing machine. We have co2 cylinders attached to the jacket with cords that allow you to bring yourself back up but then your partner must be there to pick you up to avoid going back under “, said Vau who” started to have an attraction for the sea since baby”.

“I discovered the sea and I fell in love with it, but I was born in Lisbon and I could only go to the pool there when I was younger”, but then he took all his satisfactions and now he also founded Atlantic Giants, an environmental organization non-profit, based in the Azores, is ambassador of the marine protected areas of Portugal and is committed to the conservation of the ocean environment.