HOW DO YOU TRAIN TO SURF THE BIGGEST WAVES IN THE WORLD?

After running two Reboot Retreats in France the Bay fitness team headed to Portugal, Nazaré to train Big wave gurus Garret McNamara, Andrew Cotton, Hugo Vau, Kealli Mamela and their team to surf the biggest waves on the planet.  Garret currently holds the World record for the biggest wave ever surfed at 78ft. He currently is in training for the iconic big wave event “The Eddie” where he will be up against 27 of the biggest names in world surfing.

Our main aim is to strengthen and protect the body whilst optimising the potential of the mind. The focus is on mimicking the movement patterns and fitness components required when in the water. We have a month and are running 3 sessions a day plus post natal sessions for garrets wife, Nicole, who has just brought baby Barrel into the world. Sessions include pre sunrise runs to the lighthouse to check the surf, morning dynamic yoga, paddle fitness, personal training, PNF and MET shoulder mobility, physical therapy, sports massage, restorative yoga, and meditation. We also compiled a comprehensive eating and drinking plan with the aim of enhancing the effectiveness of our training. The daily Nazare market is esplendido and makes fresh fish and locally grown fruit & vegetables easily accessible every day.

Unlike an Olympic athlete, or a team sports player Big Wave surfers don’t know the date at which their big day will come. Therefore it is impossible to come up with a periodised training plan to peak for the biggest day of their career.  Even the weather charts can be unpredictable with a sudden change in wind direction making the waves impossible to surf. If an Olympic athlete falls, their dreams and lifelong training crash upon them. If a big wave surfer falls, a giant wave of up to 80ft lands on their head but their dreams remain intact.

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Unlike an Olympic athlete, or a team sports player Big Wave surfers don’t know the date at which their big day will come. Therefore it is impossible to come up with a periodised training plan to peak for the biggest day of their career.  Even the weather charts can be unpredictable with a sudden change in wind direction making the waves impossible to surf. If an Olympic athlete falls, their dreams and lifelong training crash upon them. If a big wave surfer falls, a giant wave of up to 80ft lands on their head but their dreams remain intact.

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The other difference with training a Big Wave surfer is if the waves are good they will surf for up to 5 hours once or twice a day. Consequently the volume, type, and intensity of training must be tailored depending on the hours spent in the water each day. Imagine the demand on the shoulders if you were to do dynamic sunrise yoga, surf for 5 hours, and then do a training session incorporating upper body movements. Therefore to reduce risk of injury, post surf sessions would focus on restorative yoga, massage, core and some physical therapy for any injury/pain/niggles. In personal training the focus must always be on the client or athlete and ensuring they are at their very best physically and mentally when the big days come.

At first glance attempting to surf an 80ft wave is insane. Having gained an insight into the preparation, the training, the safety involved I can confirm they are ready and the risk is calculated. Aside from the training they have 3 jetskis; one towing, one picking up and one back up if the pick up fails. They also have jackets with four carbon dioxide canisters they can pull to inflate themselves to the surface.

If you’re interested in the training programmes, techniques, nutrition plans, yoga moves, therapy and meditation techniques to optimise the mind and control adrenaline and fear check out Bayfitness.co.uk for upcoming blogs.

Jennie Lewis