Big wave surfer Alex Botelho was involved in a horrific accident during the World Surf League’s (WSL) Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge in Portugal. The Portuguese pro surfer was competing in the tow surfing challenge when he wiped out on a wave. His jet-ski partner Hugo Vau was able to rescue him, but on their way back to shore the jet-ski was caught between two massive waves and went flying.
The terrifying incident was all caught on the live broadcast of the WSL event. The footage shows both men getting swept off the jet-ski and disappearing under a barrage of waves.
The video of the event is available below.
The water safety team was quick to respond, getting to Botelho as he lay facedown in the water and bringing him safely to shore. At this point, Botelho was placed on a spinal board and brought to the hospital.
Alex Botelho Is ‘Stable & Conscious’ After Jetski Wipeout
The WSL posted on Instagram, saying “Big Wave Surfer @alex_botelho was involved in a very serious incident during the Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge. He was rushed to the hospital and we now have an update on his condition. Currently, he is stable and conscious. He will stay at the hospital for further evaluation.” The post continued, “A heartfelt thank you to the safety and medical teams for their quick response. We are wishing Alex a full and speedy recovery.”
At the end of the event, surfers voted to give the top award to the water safety team, the Jogos Santa Casa Commitment Award.
Botelho’s fellow Portuguese pro surfer Nic von Rupp posted on Instagram his reaction to Botelho’s crash, saying “Today I was confronted with the reality of our sport, heartbreaking watching my brother @alex_botelho between life and death right infront of the eyes of the world.”
Nazare, Portugal Is a World-Class Spot for Big Wave Surfing
Because of the presence of the underwater Nazare Canyon, this stretch of ocean is known around the world for its high breaking waves perfect for big wave surfing. The record for the largest wave ever surfed was set in Nazare, by the Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa. On November 8, 2017, Koxa surfed a 24.38 meter wave (80 feet), as recorded by the Guinness World Records.
Here’s a useful video from the World Surf League explaining the Nazare Big Wave Tow Surfing Challenge, the tournament that Botelho was surfing in when this incident occurred.