Watching busy line-ups of the West Coast of Portugal; Portuguese riders becoming full-time residents of WSL; and the career of professional surfer turning into an achievable reality, it’s hard to believe that a mere 60 years ago surfing in Portugal didn’t exist. Just imagine the waves of Supertubos and Ribeira D’Ilhas and those of Nazare breaking perfectly… Untamed, virgin and wild.
Then there was a man destined to become a father of Portuguese surfing. It all started in 1945, with an article from an oversea magazine that a 15 year-old boy Pedro Martins de Lima came across while in Azores, where Americans had their military bases. The article featuring Duke Kahanamoku riding the wave on a wooden board standing shook child’s imagination and the sparkle was lit.
with an article from an oversea magazine…
With a very little information about surfing in 50s, there was even less equipment available. It is only in 1959 that Pedro Lima finally managed to buy his very first surfboard from Biarritz, France: a ‘Barland’ baby of ten feet long, 23 inches wide and 16 kg heavy. The next challenge was to figure out how to stand up on it without falling… ‘Man get a piece of wax’, an American surfer told him at the Plage des Anglais and explained how to do it with all the solidarity of those times.
…it is also in 1959 that Pedro Lima stood up on the surfboard for the first time and experienced so much joy and happiness that surfing became his passion for life.
About Beach Culture
What to say about the evolving of surf in Portugal in 40s-50s, when even the beach culture, especially beach wear, was very conservative due to the restrictions imposed by Salazar dictatorship. For example, men were allowed to bare their back until the waistline, while women – only until 10 cm above the waistline. His ‘boxers’ had to cover the belly and at least 1 cm of the legs while her ‘bikini’ had to cover the belly and have a sort of a skirt of 2 cm. The disobedience would cost the sexual provocateur about 2000 EUR if converted into today’s values. The liberation would come after the revolution of April 25, 1974.
It is funny to mention that when the waves turned good for surfing and the alert red flags were up, Pedro Lima had to struggle to make his way into the water when the authorities wouldn’t allow it. Often, the beach-goers themselves would stand up for the surfer saying that he had already been out there and even saved several lives.
The disobedience would cost the sexual provocateur
about 2000 EUR if converted in today’s values.
In 70s, Pedro Lima with his first students, who would eventually become his friends, explored the West Coast discovering many unknown spots and unridden waves. Peniche was already famous at that time and so were the zones of Costa Da Caparica, Carcavelos and Cascais. However, when the friends were driving by Ribeira D’Ilhas – today’s mecca of European surf – the potential of the beautiful right somehow remained unnoticed. Although, in two-three years the justice was served 🙂
Even if Google search had already been available to the Portuguese surfers at those times, it wouldn’t have given many results because it was them who had to put all the spots on the map and discover how to surf them. Not having easily accessible reference points, like surfers and magazines, meant learning by trial and error while no jet-ski or helicopter support meant putting your life at risk. Back then, the intuition was a head guide and passion was a mentor,
the intuition was the only guide
and passion was the mentor.