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‘Mad Dog’ surfer dies while catching waves at Portugal’s notorious Nazare

Big wave surfer Marcio Freire has died aged 47  (Instagram)
Big wave surfer Marcio Freire has died aged 47 (Instagram)

Tributes have been paid to a legendary Brazilian surfer who died catching waves in Portugal’s notorious Nazare rip tide.

Big wave surfer Marcio Freire died on Thursday while practising tow-in surfing on the giant waves on the central coast of Portugal, the local maritime authority said.

Support staff on jet-skis managed to get the 47-year-old to the beach, but all attempts to revive him failed.

Local reports suggested that the water was relatively flat with 15-foot waves and Mr Friere had complained of a headache before going into the water.

Nazare has some of the biggest waves in the world (Reuters)
Nazare has some of the biggest waves in the world (Reuters)

Portugal’s National Maritime Authority said in a statement: “A 47-year-old man of Brazilian nationality died this afternoon after falling while practising surfing in Praia do Norte.

“The rescuers found that the victim was in cardio-respiratory arrest, immediately starting resuscitation manoeuvres on the sand. After several attempts, it was not possible to reverse the situation.”

Freire was one of the three Brazilian surfers who became known as the “Mad Dogs” after conquering the giant wave “Jaws” in Hawaii. They featured in the 2016 documentary Mad Dogs.

Tributes from other surfers poured in on Instagram.

“He surfed all day with a big smile on his face. That’s how I’ll keep him in my memory. Legend,” posted fellow big wave surfer Nic von Rupp.

“Today we lost a great man, a very good friend and a legendary surfer, Marcio Freire. He was such a happy spirit, always with a smile on his face...Rest in peace my friend,” wrote sports photographer Fred Pompermayer.

Nazare has some of the biggest waves in the world. They are magnified by an underwater canyon three miles deep which ends where the North Atlantic meets the shoreline near the former fishing village.