Nazare legend Márcio Freire of ‘Mad Dogs’ dies while surfing Portugal’s giant wave
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This week, Marcio Freire, big-wave pioneer and legend, sadly became the first surfer to die at Nazare, Praia do Norte. The Portugal’s National Maritime Authorities released a statement saying that on Thursday (January 5) Freire was taken back to the beach; there, rescuers found him in cardio-respiratory arrest, but he was unable to be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Freire was known for travelling around the world and conquering the biggest waves. The Brazilian surfer featured in the 2016 documentary Mad Dogs which saw a crew of three Brazilian surfers ride the big wave Jaws, without a tow-in, something unthinkable at the time. They broke records, and changed surfing history becoming forever known as the Mad Dogs.
Freire said in the documentary: "We didn’t have any safety. It was pure courage guided by the desire to go down a huge wave. The risks were many without proper safety. If an accident happened, it would be the end of the journey.”
He added: "Nothing forced us to do what we did. It was all for ourselves, for our personal satisfaction."
The Portuguese wave is known as the biggest wave in the world with records for ‘biggest wave surfed’ being frequently broken at this spot. The location made it onto the map for surfers in 2011 when Hawaii’s Garrett McNamara rode a record breaking 23.8 metre wave. It was the largest swell ever ridden at the time, and shot the small fishing town on the Oeste coast to the mainstage.
The surfing community has been shocked by the news of the Brazilian legend’s death with many taking to social media to pay tribute. Fellow big-wave surfer Nic Von Rupp wrote: "Today we lost one of ours. Always had loads of respect for Márcio as one of the paddle pioneers at jaws. Today I saw him surf all day in Nazare with a huge smile. With that smile is how I’m going to remember him."
Thiago Jacare also paid tribute to his friend calling him "more than an idol" and "a true hero" in a lengthy Instagram post.