On Wednesday Summa Longbottom, the 14-year-old daughter of shaper and hellman Dylan, towed Nazaré for the first time. Just on dark, already having caught four waves, Summa caught the biggest wave of her short life. The wave mowed her down and she then copped a 12-foot, five wave set on the head. Dylan here recounts the experience to Tracks.
“I’ve been hanging with and shaping for Antonia Silva, João De Macedo and Sergio Cosme, three of the main Nazaré guys, while I was based in Lisbon. There was a bit of swell and they said we’d like to take Summa and I to check it out. They reckoned while it was a summer swell, it could be 8-to-10 foot.
I’d never been there so it was so cool to have a look. At the harbour there is like a locker room with all the tow boards and everyone leaves their big guns and equipment. And up at the lighthouse overlooking the wave, there is a surf museum with a history of the wave and all the boards, so the whole vibe is amazing.
Being summer it had lost a lot of the sand, so the shorebreak was so gnarly. We had to wait as the low tide wasn’t till late, but got out a few hours before dark and Summa was first up.
Antonio was driving, as he is incredible on the ski and as that shorebreak was so heavy, I was happy with him on the job. I told her to kick out before the shorey, because it just whirlpools you and even though you are five metres from shore, you can get trapped. Anyway she scored four waves off the bat. She was really keen and just took it on from the get go.
It started to get bigger on dark and a set came through, easy a solid 10 foot, and she was on the first one. She was a bit deep and Antonio had to whip her in with heaps of speed. She let go of the rope behind the peak and just gunned it. João was out there on his gun, catching a couple and looking out for her as she came flying past him, he reckons couldn't believe his eyes. I was behind on the other ski with a camera, and later Summa told me she looked up and couldn’t believe the size of it. Then it just mowed her down. I obviously didn’t get any pics, and it was too dark anyway, but she won’t need the evidence, she will remember it for a while.
I was like ‘shit,’ cause I couldn’t see her. She had one lifejacket on and, in hindsight, we probably should have had two, but she popped up. But then there was another bigger one, easy 12-foot, behind it and she was right in the impact zone with nowhere to go. And there was another, and then another, like a five-wave set. By then I was shitting myself.
She got rolled towards the shorey as Antonio couldn’t get to her. She said she felt the sand, but she was like, ‘Oh no, that’s no good, cause I’m in the deadly shorey.’ Then Antonio just went, ‘fuck this’ and charged in and somehow grabbed her. It was heavy. He did an amazing job.
Later she said it was scary, but also a great experience. She felt the power of it and loved it. It shook her, but she wasn’t traumatized by it. She hasn’t towed much, because we don’t use them in the Bali, but we have been paddling big Outside Corner at Ulus lately and she has been getting more confident.
I think we will go back now and get all the proper vests, get really kitted up and be a bit more prepared. But she loved the experience, she definitely wants to do more. She’s already surfed Teahupoo, and now Nazaré, so she’s ticking ‘em off. We’ll see where she wants to go with it.”
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