Earlier this year surfer Sebastian Steudtner rode one of the one largest waves on record, and the video is the stuff nightmares are made of.
The footage, shot in Nazaré, Portugal, shows Steudtner being towed in to what’s being estimated as a 95-foot wave over the winter, when waves in Nazaré are at their largest. Surfers chase these mega waves each year, and not everyone is able to ride away safely.
How bad would it be for a wave like this to land on you? It’s impossible to know precisely based on this video, however we do know that a cubic meter of water weighs 1,000 kilograms. A wave the size of Steudtner is exerting a force off the lip of approximately 1,435,000 kilograms — or the weight of 39.4 fully-loaded tractor trailers.
Around this same time big-wave surfer Toby Cunningham attempted to catch a wave at Nazaré before being caught in churning white water. A dramatic rescue unfolded with more waves rolling in, making it difficult for Jet Skis to reach him.
The existence of these monster waves is due to Nazaré’s unique topography. A deep underwater canyon runs just off the coast of the town, which creates the perfect scenario for waves this size. On a normal coastline waves with naturally lose energy as the approach the shore, causing them to lose power as they approach.
In the case of the Nazaré Canyon, however, water rushes to fill and replenish the space. When swells converge water rushes out of the canyon at the same time a wave travels above it — causing the two to form these kind of massive waves extreme surfers are looking for.