HomeOutdoorsNewsSurfer Dies While Attempting to Surf Some of the Biggest Waves in the World

Surfer Dies While Attempting to Surf Some of the Biggest Waves in the World

by Caitlin Berard
Big Wave Surfer Tackling Monster Wave
(Photo by rhyman007 via Getty Images)

Earlier this month, Marcio Freire, a 47-year-old surfer, died while tow surfing Nazare, the infamous Portuguese surf spot known for its giant waves.

A legendary surfer, Freire gained the fitting nickname “Mad Dog” for his penchant for big wave chasing. The Brazillian surfer has conquered liquid mountains all over the world and finally made his way to Nazare’s Praia do Norte, ready to face one of the toughest challenges of his career.

As the day wore on, the already massive surf grew in size, creating a more difficult, and far deadlier, challenge for surfers brave enough to attempt it. With multiple rescue workers and fellow surfers circling the water on jet skis just outside of the rolling barrel of water, Freire paddled out. After catching a monstrous wave, he rode it for several yards back toward the shore before the wave overpowered him, pulling the surfer beneath its crushing weight.

The wave crashed against the foamy surface, forcing Freire underwater, and as the surface calmed again, the surfer was nowhere in sight. Those on jetskis searched the water for the downed surfer for minutes before he finally surfaced, floating motionless in the sea.

Hoping that he was merely unconscious, rescuers pulled him to the shore, where lifeguards and emergency teams performed CPR in an effort to revive him. Unfortunately, however, they were unsuccessful. Freire was pronounced dead at the scene.

Fellow Big Wave Surfers Mourn the Loss of Legendary Surfer Marcio Freire

Spending his early years in Brazil, Marcio Freire’s passion for surfing stretched back to childhood. And in the late ’90s, the big wave surfer decided to take his love for mountainous waves a step further.

With his close friends, Yuri Soledade and Danilo Couto, by his side, Freire moved to Hawaii for one simple reason. Conquering Jaws, the greatest big wave on Earth. Through their awe-inspiring, hair-raising feats, the three friends became known as the “Mad Dogs,” tackling Jaws as often as they could, even at its most dangerous.

“I don’t think most people really know the impact he’s had on surfing,” Soledad told Surf Line of his friend. “What he did at Jaws was truly pioneering. No safety, no flotation, no ski. Just him and the ocean.”

“Marcio would say, ‘I want to paddle this thing. I want to surf with my chest on the board and feel the drop,'” agreed celebrated paddle surfer Andrea Moller. “He just had this pure desire to paddle into that wave. And he proved to everybody that it was possible. He, out of everyone, needs to be remembered.”

In Mad Dogs, a documentary following the daring trio’s adventures, Freire revealed that he never made a living from surfing. For Freire, money was never the goal. It was always about the thrill of the ride.

“I never made a living from surfing, I never made money from surfing,” the surfer said. “I can count the times I got money from surfing with my fingers. In 2015, I wiped out badly and earned $1,000. And when our Mad Dogs documentary came out, I also made some money. [But] I was more of a soul surfer and didn’t care much.”