Veteran Brazilian surfer Marcio Freire died on Thursday while practising tow-in surfing on the giant waves in Nazaré 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.
Nazaré boasts some of the biggest waves in the world. They are magnified by an underwater canyon 5 kilometers (3 miles) deep which ends where the North Atlantic meets the shoreline near the former fishing village.
Hawaiian Garrett McNamara put Nazaré on the map in 2011 when he set a world record for the biggest wave ever surfed at 78 feet (23.77 meters).
Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa bettered McNamara’s mark in 2017, also at Nazaré, and German Sebastian Steudtner broke the record again there in 2020, surfing an 86-feet wave.