The world's biggest wave, explained

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And how it's transformed a Portuguese town.

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Nazaré, Portugal was for centuries just a small fishing village known for its fishermen and dangerous seas. Then one day in 2011, a pro-surfer named Garrett McNamara strapped on a surf board and rode a 78 foot wave right off its coast. It was a new world-record for big wave surfing and the moment that changed Nazaré forever. Now, Nazaré is the capital of Big Wave surfing. The secret to Nazaré’s giant waves lies under the surface, where a huge underwater canyon funnels swells right up to its cliffs, then launches that energy straight up, sometimes 60, 70, or 80 feet. Many surfers visit in the hopes of catching a 100-foot wave.

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