Full Video of Jeff Scott riding Nazare topped with an exclusive interview. Jeff Scott is the first rider to dare challenging the mythic and spectacular wave of Nazare with a Jetsurf. Learn everything from his mental preparation to his thoughts and feelings while he was riding. If you like his story, sponsor Jeff and be part of his next challenge.
I have been watching DVD’s of the legendary big wave surfers from around the world and last week I made my 1st step into that world and shared the water with some local and international legendary big wave surfers including Garrett McNamara!
– (How) did you prepare mentally and physically for this event?
Physically I try to JetSurf any stormy (wave) conditions we get and to Mountain Bike as much as I can, but in reality with a business to run and two young children; I didn’t get to physically prepare anywhere near what I would have wanted to for this trip. I knew this and so the mental preparation would become even more important to make this trip a success.
Mentally I try and anticipate scenarios ahead of time and make decisions in my mind based upon hypothetical situations that may arise. This way when one of those critical situations comes up and you need to make a fast and important decision in a split second then you give yourself the best chance that you can. I also had a strategy for this event that would lower my risk of getting caught out in a situation that would see me struggling physically and that was a simple one really; to ride smart and not get caught out in the impact zone!
This is a new sport and the rules yet have not been defined, that means that to a degree I can make my own rules. Although I was going to be in the water riding waves with tow in surfers, I was not going to be towed into a wave on a surfboard by a jet ski as my JetSurf is kind of like both the surfboard and jet ski in one! If I can run under my own power then I don’t need to ride the wave in the pocket, I can ride more on the shoulder of the wave (somewhere between where the tow in surfer will ride and where the jet ski rider will ride ride along side as he shadows the tow in surfer). The shoulder of the wave is a safer place than the pocket of the wave to JetSurf as it is less steep and also it is nearer the exit of the wave (think of it a little like an emergency exit seat of airplane or sitting within a couple of rows of the emergency exit rather than all the way down the plane). Also Nazare is notorious for surprises with unproportionately monstrous waves jumping out of the Nazare Canyon and that can catch even the most experienced big wave surfer out; leaving them too deep in the wave and in big trouble. If I was planning to be more on the shoulder of the wave and then if I found myself in too deep then in reality I would be more likely to find myself in the pocket rather than going over the falls and into the monster washing machine. Another strategy that I would use would be the standard ‘only to ride the biggest waves that are available on the day’ and this is something that can be very difficult for new waveriders to get their heads around. Basically if you ride the smaller waves of the day, then you are riding in the impact zone of the big waves of the day and it’s very likely that you will get caught inside. If you ride the biggest wave of the day and pull out the side (emergency exit) then you are already out the back and relatively safe (i.e. not in the impact zone).
Nuno (from Atlantic Safaris) also started me off on peak 3, a more mellow wave and coached me to just take the last wave of each set as I wasn’t fighting anyone for the waves on peak 2 or peak 3. I did have a near miss and did find myself in the impact zone early on with a stalled engine after getting a bit too deep into a wave after having one more turn than I should have, but it was a good reminder to ride smart and ease myself into it. To take my time and slowly build up to peak 2 and even peak 1.
– What is on your mind when you go for it and during the ride itself
If the conditions on the day are challenging enough (usually meaning good waves) then I switch off from all stresses in life and I switch to wave mode! When I am in wave mode, I feel at one with the ocean and all my senses are constantly measuring the conditions, looking for the swell, looking for where it is likely to break, looking at the wave in front to see how that is breaking and that will give a good indication how the wave I am riding will break. Constantly looking up and down the line to read the wave and try to predict what it will do next; then ride up or down the wave accordingly. It’s fair to say that the Nazare conditions were more than enough for me to be in wave mode and completely immersed in the experience, although every now and again I would realise that I was in one of the worlds best wave spots and I have to pinch myself to check I wasn’t still just dreaming about being there!
– Main concerns and difficulties during the ride
To check I was on the last wave of each set, I found that I could position myself on the top of the swell as it was still a little way out to sea. I found that if I was far enough out then I could jump off the back of the swell to the one behind or if it was the last wave in the set then I would have time to go full speed on my JetSurf to ride from the top of the swell into the wave and make the drop as the swell formed into a wave. But as the session went on the swell was pumping and getting bigger and bigger and the bigger the swell, the faster it was moving and the faster I would have to move to get into the wave and make the drop. I also found that the chop on the wave face got choppier and choppier and I was going so fast that is was hard to control the board, I would bend my knees so much to keep low to try and overcome it, but I was on the limit of that technique working for me and if it got any bigger then I don’t think I could have followed the swell in from the outside (I had already fallen twice, but luckily I was still out the back and not in the impact zone). I also lacked the local knowledge that the experienced Nazare surfers would have and sometimes found it hard to judge how deep to go into the waves while they were still forming, although Nuno Santos was a great help with this as his local knowledge and big wave experience allowed him to position himself perfectly and confidently with the jet ski.
MSN-What specificities of the Jetsurf helped you ride a wave of this size
The speed of the JetSurf was very helpful in both catching the waves and also in getting around the breaking waves when heading back out the back after a ride. The shape of the JetSurf Race also felt very good on the waves. Also the nature of a Surfboard with the power and speed of the Jetsurf means that I can ride waves in a different style to tow in surfers, maybe comparable to (standard surfboard) long board style compared to short board style.
MSN- To the contrary were there some features of the board that made it difficult?
The standard centre fin is not ideal for waveriding and really made the board too loose on the water surface as it produces too much lift. I could also feel drag coming from all the water going into the propeller area with the water going faster than the propeller while I was flying down 30’+ wave faces so fast with the throttle just at 25% (of course a normal surfboard doesn’t have a big water scoop there!) This made the board feel unsettled and I sure didn’t want to go any faster at this point, but I found that pulling the throttle flat out settled the board down as the propeller speed had then caught up with the speed of the water trying to push past it!!
MSN- What is you feeling about this whole experience?
It was incredible, a dream come true for me. For ten years I have been watching DVD’s of the legendary big wave surfers from around the world and last week I made my 1st step into that world and shared the water with some local and international legendary big wave surfers including Garrett McNamara! I had taken a long shot on a forecast that was five days into the future to remain true when I arrived (amazingly it did!) It was the best day of the year for me to have come, which meant that I made a good call, but I also got very, very lucky indeed too. It wasn’t the biggest waves in the world on my 1st day in Nazare, but that was not what I was looking for. I needed to make a sensible step there on a medium day for Nazare (which was an enormous day for me) and get a feel for the place.
MSN- What advice would you give to other riders if they want to challenge themselves in big waves?
I guess there are two different categories of people who might consider this?
1) Big wave surfers and tow in surfers
My advice – Don’t jump on a JetSurf and charge big waves on day one, get to learn how the JetSurf works over time on the flat water and smaller wave days 1st. The JetSurf can make these flat and small days lots of fun, so use the JetSurf to enjoy those days and get to know it. Then you can bring it into your big wave surfing, but remember that it is a very expensive thing to lose or bang on the rocks and I recommend that you go in pairs with a friend and / or have a Jet Ski rescue watching over you even if the one Jet Ski is giving cover to 2 – 3 of you at the same time.
2) JetSurfers who know the JetSurf well, but who have little or some experience in waves
My advice – Take one step at a time, let it evolve naturally from riding 1′ waves to 3′ waves and so on. I will soon release a mini series on using motorised boards to ride waves via the Facebook page ‘Jet Surf Waveriders’ and YouTube channel ‘Jetsurfing Nation’ and that will worth you watching.
But either way, stay safe and one step at a time.
MSN-Will you do it again (with another Jetboard for example)? Can you tell more about your next challenge?
I love riding waves and will always keep looking for the next opportunity to ride them (near or far.) I had also been looking for the last six months for a chance to JetSurf the UK big wave in Cornwall called ‘The Cribbar’
and I will continue to check the forecast to keep an eye out for when it will next be working.
I look forward to working more closely with motorised surfboard manufacturers to get access to boards that will help me to ride waves better and who will help to support future challenges of this nature. This would help me to limit my financial risk of losing or damaging one of these boards beyond repair as I try and push the sport further. It could also help to pay the cost of safety cover / travel and doing these things in a responsible way.
Thanks for reading my story
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