Surfing Legend Dies Riding Big Wave In Portugal

Photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images

Paul Aubert Contributor
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A Brazilian surfing legend died Thursday while surfing off the coast of Portugal.

Marcio Freire was practicing tow-in surfing at Praia do Norte beach in Nazaré before the 47-year-old fell off his board, local officials announced in a press release, according to Reuters.

Rescuers on jet skis were able to get Freire to shore and began “resuscitation maneuvers on the sand,” according to the Portuguese National Maritime Authority. However, the life-saving attempts were unsuccessful.

Freire rose to fame after being featured in a 2016 surfing documentary called “Mad Dogs.” In the film, Freire and two other Brazilians successfully surfed a massive wave called “Jaws” in Hawaii.

The Portugal waves where Freire was surfing Thursday are also infamously dangerous. In 2011, Garrett McNamara, an American surfer, set a world surfing record after he successfully rode a 78-foot wave at the Nazaré beach. (RELATED: Shark Attacks Surfer Off California Coast)

In 2020, the record was beaten out by German Sebastian Steudtner, who surfed an 86-foot wave at Nazaré.

Freire’s death sparked headlines across the surfing world. “Always had loads of Respect for Marcio as one of the paddle pioneers at jaws, today I saw him surf all day in Nazaré with a huge smile.. with that smile is how I’m going to remember him,” Nic von Rupp, a professional big wave surfer, commented on Instagram.

“Man what a sad day for surfing. Hard to imagine somebody who seemed so big and invincible is gone. Hard to imagine somebody who seemed so big and invincible is gone,” Hawaiian surfer Matt Meola also posted on Instagram.


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