Drone video captures surfers braving liquid mountains at Nazaré

surfers drone video

A new drone video has surfaced demonstrating yet again just how effective UAVs have been in bringing spectators up close and personal with improved footage of surfers as they negotiate waves – this time in some of the most enormous swells the ocean can muster.

The newest example of that appeared earlier this month with a drone video capturing the gigantic conditions that have made Portugal’s Nazaré arguably the most compelling challenge for the globe’s big wave surfers. “Big” is a euphemism in this case, since swells rolling in at about 50 feet on “average” huge days can rise to over 100 feet when liquid insanity goes to another level.

Read: Sick drone video offers XXL wave surf experience at Waimea Bay

Drone pilot and surf video expert Tucker Wooding was on hand at Nazaré this month when salty giants stormed in to play – and punish surfers crazy enough to jump atop them. The result is seven minutes of footage that – thanks to the unique aerial capabilities of UAVs – takes viewers far closer to both the riders and watery avalanches chasing them than otherwise possible.

As DroneDJ has noted in the past, drones have been critical in revolutionizing, and greatly improving, how surfers are captured in photo or videos. In earlier periods that was done from the shore, boats, helicopters, or by photographers shooting from the lineup itself – the latter not an option in giant waves intent on drowning anyone in them. 

Both the ability of UAVs to position that vantage point closer to riders, and their incredible mobility and maneuverability, allows the craft to react to the progress of surfers and capture footage from ideal angles as the wave changes form. 

ReadDrone startup resolves world’s hottest debate: wave height in surfing 

In Wooding’s video, the drone also provides a wider-angle perspective of just how crowded the sport has become in even the most suicidal conditions, as numerous surfers and tow-in jet skis scramble to catch waves – or avoid being buried by them – without colliding.

Another benefit of drones videos in XXL conditions is overcoming a visual effect that can make the giant swells surfers brave appear smaller than they actually are. Unlike the one Tucker opens with, giant swells don’t always hollow out and form Hawaii 5-0-esque tubes, and instead often rise until they tumble down a less steep incline. 

As his shots of those demonstrate, “steep” isn’t synonymous with “big,” as riders trying to out-run mid-sized liquid ski slopes crashing down behind are acutely aware.

Read: Drone surf videos enhance footage shot on, in, and above waves

Of course, when massive swells do jack up, drones provide greater, appreciation-enhancing proximity to the action than footage shot from the shore – as this recent video of a surfer on a 115-foot Nazaré monster shot from a bluff attests.

In the event Wooding’s aerial appetizer of Nazaré unleashed doesn’t suffice to sate the Thanksgiving Day appetite of surf video fans awaiting the main course, he more recently uploaded drone footage of a day of oceanic insanity captured by drone last February.




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