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Surfing Star Márcio Freire Dies at Age 47 in Portugal

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 6, 2023

WAILEA, HI - JUNE 18:  Bob Van de Gronde and Marcio Freire participate in Maui Film Festival's Filmmaker Panels in Wailea on June 18, 2016 in Wailea, Hawaii.  (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for the Maui Film Festival at Wailea)
Mike Windle/Getty Images for the Maui Film Festival at Wailea

Brazilian surfer Márcio Freire died in the water Thursday off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal, per Reuters.

According to the local maritime authority in Nazaré, the 47-year-old was practicing tow-in surfing at the time. Support staff on jet skis were able to reach Freire and get him to the beach, but they were unable to revive him.

Nazaré, which is on the central coast of Portugal, is known for some of the world's biggest waves, helped formed by an underwater canyon three miles deep.

Though a number of surfing accidents have happened at Nazaré, maritime authorities told Euan Ward of the New York Times that Freire was the first surfer killed there. They also said that other than "characteristically big waves" conditions Thursday were "not out of the ordinary."

German surfer Sebastian Steudtner currently holds the world record for the biggest wave ever surfed when he topped an 86-foot wave at Nazaré.

Freire is best known as one of the subjects of the 2016 documentary Mad Dogs, which highlighted three Brazilian surfers who rode the "Jaws" wave in Hawaii.

The surf pioneer continued to travel the world in search of giant waves and he made an impact on many fellow competitors.

"Today we lost one of ours. Always had loads of respect for Márcio as one of the paddle pioneers at jaws," fellow pro surfer Nic von Rupp said in an Instagram story (via BBC News). "Today I saw him surf all day in Nazaré with a huge smile. With that smile is how I'm going to remember him."