The Portuguese surfer "is stable and conscious," the World Surf League said in a statement

By Ashley Boucher
February 11, 2020 08:31 PM
Alex Botelho
alex botelho/Instagram

Big wave surfer Alex Botelho was involved in a serious accident at the Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge in Portugal on Tuesday.

Botelho is “is stable and conscious,” the World Surf League said in a statement. The surfer was after being rushed to the hospital after being pummeled by the wake of two massive waves while being towed. The WSL said that he will “stay at the hospital for further evaluation.”

“A heartfelt thank you to the safety and medical teams for their quick response. We are wishing Alex a full and speedy recovery,” the statement added.

In video of the accident shared by the WSL, Botelho can be seen being towed by a jet ski when he and the jet ski are then caught in the cross-section of two waves.

Both Botelho and the driver of the jet ski are tossed high into the air before another massive wave crashes down in the same spot.

WARNING: Some readers may find the video below disturbing

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Botelho was recovered by the competition’s water safety team, who can be seen in the video rushing into the frothy water as he is washed up near the shore. The day’s Jogos Santa Casa Commitment Award went to the water safety team for their quick response.

The Nazaré competition is a dangerous one, with waves so big that the WSL said ahead of the contest that it would not be surprising if a Guinness World Record for the largest wave was broken. The biggest wave ever ridden was at Nazaré in 2017 by Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa. Koxa’s monster wave was 24.28 meters, nearly 80 feet.

Rescuers surrounding Botelho
World Surf League/Instagram
Alex Botelho during the Nazare Challenge 2016
Shutterstock

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In a video teasing the event, the WSL said that “severe wipeouts and daring feats of water rescue” were to be expected.

Seventeen men and two women were paired up into tow teams — where a surfer is towed into a wave by a jetski — for the competition, with each team surfing in two, one-hour heats. The performances were judged later in the day by the athletes themselves, who voted for the day’s awards.

The men’s and women’s wave of the day went to Kai Lenny and Justine Dupont, respectively, and the team champions award went to the pair of Kai Lenny and Lucas Chianca.

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