How Did Marcio Freire Die? Legendary Brazilian 'Mad Dog' Surfer Dies While Surfing on Giant Waves in Portugal's Nazare

The 47-year-old was transported to the shore by support workers on jet skis, but all efforts to revive him failed.

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Legendary Brazilian surfer Marcio Freire died on Thursday while surfing on the giant waves in Nazaré in Portugal, the local maritime authority said. According to the local marine authority, the veteran was practicing tow-in surfing at the well-known coastal hotspot in western Portugal when he fell.

The 47-year-old was transported to the shore by support workers on jet skis, but all efforts to revive him failed. Freire was one of the three Brazilian surfers who, after defeating after conquering the giant wave known as Hawaii's "Jaws," shot to fame as the "Mad Dogs." "Mad Dogs," a 2016 documentary, featured Freire, Danilo Couto and Yuri Soledade.

Tragic Death

Marcio Freire
Marcio Freire Twitter

According to the local marine authority, Freire was practicing tow-in surfing at Nazare, when a giant wave suddenly swallowed him. He was later seen floating when he was brought to the shore by support staff but could not be revived despite desperate attempts.

"A 47-year-old man of Brazilian nationality died this afternoon after falling while practising surfing in Praia do Norte," Portugal's National Maritime Authority said in a statement.

"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."

Tributes from other surfers poured in on Instagram.

"He surfed all day with a big smile on his face. That's how I'll keep him in my memory. Legend," posted fellow big wave surfer Nic von Rupp.

Marcio Freire
Marcio Freire Twitter

"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...Rest in peace my friend," wrote sports photographer Fred Pompermayer.

Gone too Soon

Some of the largest waves in the world may be found in Nazare. They are magnified by a three-mile-deep underwater tunnel that terminates where the North Atlantic meets the beach close to the former fishing community.

"The part of a wave travelling in deep water – over the canyon – moves faster than the part of the wave in shallow shelf water," Nasa's Earth Observatory notes.

After hitting the canyon wall, the faster portion of the wave is propelled upward and occasionally collides with the slower portion of the wave to create the enormous waves that have been drawing surfers to Nazaré for years.

Garrett McNamara, a surfer from the United States, made Nazare famous in 2011 when he set a record for the tallest wave ever surfed at 78 feet (24 meters).

In 2017, Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa smashed McNamara's record, also at Nazare. Later, in 2020, German surfer Sebastian Steudtner once again broke the world record set by Koxa at the same place.

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