Marcio Freire: Veteran Brazilian surfer dies while surfing on giant waves
NAZARÉ, PORTUGAL: Legendary Brazilian surfer Márcio Freire died on Thursday, January 6, while surfing at Portugal's famous giant-wave break Nazare. The fatal accident took place while he surfed off the central coast of Portugal, officials said. Rescuers on jet skis managed to get him to the beach. However, efforts to revive him failed.
Freire, 47, rose to fame for the 2016 documentary "Mad Dogs," with two other famous Brazilian surfers Danilo Couto and Yuri Soledade, that depicted their mission to conquer 'Jaws,' the giant wave in Hawaii. According to the Portuguese National Maritime Authority's statement, the surfer had been tow-in surfing, a surfing technique that uses watercraft where surfers are pulled into giant waves.
Freire's cause of death
Following the news of Freire's death, the authority stated, “A 47-year-old man of Brazilian nationality died this afternoon after falling while practicing surfing in Praia do Norte.”
“The rescuers found that the victim was in cardio-respiratory arrest, immediately starting resuscitation maneuvers on the sand. After several attempts, it was not possible to reverse the situation,” it added, reports the Daily Mail. The cause of his death has not yet been revealed.
“The Municipality of Nazaré presents its deepest condolences to the entire bereaved family as well as to the entire surfing community,” the city wrote in its email to USA Today.
As soon as the news of Freire's death broke out, surfing communities from across the world paid their tributes.
Sports photographer Fred Pompermayer shared images of Freire on Instagram and wrote, “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.”
“He was one of the three ‘Mad Dogs’ who started paddling at Jaws in the early days. He will be forever greatly missed. Rest in peace my friend,” he added.
Nic von Rupp, his fellow surfer wrote: “He surfed all day with a big smile on his face. That’s how I’ll keep him in my memory. Legend,” while Thiago Jacare, his close friend, and fellow Brazillian surfer called Freire “more than an idol” and “a true hero.”
Giant waves of Nazaré
About 130 miles south of Porto and 75 miles north of Lisbon, the huge waves of Nazaré are magnified by a three miles-deep underwater canyon that ends where the North Atlantic meets the former fishing village's shoreline.
When Garrett McNamara from Hawaii set a world record of 78 feet in 2011 for surfing the biggest wave ever at the time, the surfer put Nazaré on the map. In 2017, Brazillian Rodrigo Koxa broke the record and in 2020, German Sebastian Steudtner surfed an 86-feet wave, snatching away the record again on October 29, 2020.
According to local officials, at the time of Freire's death, the sea conditions were not particularly dangerous, reports the New York Post. The famed surfer reportedly lived in Hawaii for about 20 years.