Riding The Biggest Waves on The Planet at Nazare

by | Mar 3, 2022



“It was a clear day in September in the Portuguese beach resort of Nazaré. The sun sparkled off the cornflower-blue ocean, which broke gently against the foot of the rugged cliffs of its North Beach.

The 16th-Century fort that sits atop the cliffs was dotted with a handful of tourists posing for pictures in front of its bright-red lighthouse. It couldn’t have been a greater contrast to the scene that would unfold in just a month’s time.”

My transfer papers were coming soon. I was graduating from the USN Naval Training Center in San Diego in early November 1963. What a feeling it was.

Graduating in the top 10% of the Radioman A School class that fall following Boot Camp was the beginning of feeling great freedom as a young adult. This was the very first time in my life that I felt confident about my future.

Surfing helped me gain confidence too, when I needed it the most as a teen struggling with all sorts of trauma. I dreamed of my first duty station at the Pearl Harbor Pacific Fleet, Comsubflot5.

There, I would learn cryptography and copy secret 5 dight codes coming in from subs in the Pacific. Vietnam was getting hot back then. We were very busy. Best part was getting on the radio with the radiomen stationed aboard subs.

Was it going to be Manilla, Okinawa or Pearl Harbor.? You already know where my dreams pointed me.

I thought about Greg Knoll in that moment, while waiting for my orders. He was there preparing to attempt the biggest waves ever at Waimea Bay. We were talking 40ft plus, oh, a scary thought.

Greg rode that big 40′ wave that year. He was called “Da Bull” after that. I bought my first Knoll long board from him about 3 years earlier in Hermosa Beach, CA.

After so many decades later, we learn of an unknown surfer from North Carolina surviving the unimaginable power of an estimated 126′ wave at Nazare’ o the coast of Portugal.

How can an old surf dude like me from the 60s be so lucky as,to see this biggest wave eiding event happen twice in one life time? I can only be grateful for being alive to see it from afar.

Steve Sparks CEO
Children and Families in Life After Trauma


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About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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