Alex Botelho in critical condition after Nazare ski accident

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

Midway through yesterday's Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge, Portuguese surfer Alex Botelho was involved in a serious accident.

After getting caught inside, his team mate Hugo Vau picked him up and then accelerated sideways away from the next incoming wave, however they were surprised by a side wedge moving towards them while Vau was accelerating out of danger.

Vau hit it at speed catapaulting both driver and passenger, but it's unlikely Botelho saw the approaching wave and was cartwheeled into the air.

The webcast footage makes for sobering viewing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by World Surf League (@wsl) on

Said the WSL afterwards:

"Alex was rushed to the hospital and we now have an update on his condition. Currently, he is stable and conscious. He will stay at the hospital for further evaluation."

After the 2016 Nazare Challenge - a paddle surf contest - Twiggy Baker cast doubt over ever competing there again, saying on Instagram: "Nazare as a wave is a phenom, as challenging and beautiful as any big wave I've surfed but the dangers involved seem to outweigh the rewards."

The dangers referred to were the size of the waves and unrelenting shorebreak, but Botelho's accident was more unexpected.

Comments

Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 8:22am

Did he get scorpioned when he came down on the ski?

warddy's picture
warddy's picture
warddy commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 8:33am

Good news he’s ok
So hardcore to think they surf there regularly without the maxing safety crew

adam12's picture
adam12's picture
adam12 commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 9:04am

Wow, that looked really bad. Hope he is o.k.
It will be interesting to see whether WSL has another contest there. It really isn't a suitable lineup to put on a contest, especially the right that could easily put surfer and skis into the rocks, and the number of teams and skis in the water was ridiculous. Too many wakes for a start. Shifting 50' shore break peaks with backwash and side waves and teams hunting glory is a disaster waiting to happen.

cutty1957's picture
cutty1957's picture
cutty1957 commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 10:43am

Totally agree Adam, well said

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 9:23am

plus not a very entertaining spectacle.

much better as a paddle in comp when it was smaller.

loofy's picture
loofy's picture
loofy commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 11:09am

Agree, shit wave to watch. How are you my brother, been getting salty?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 12:30pm

on the daily. you?

loofy's picture
loofy's picture
loofy commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 2:51pm

Getting rich in ways that don't count at the bank.. Yeewwwww

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 9:26am

Sobering indeed.

In context, at what point does surfing stop being fun?

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 9:32am

When we take ourselves seriously?

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 10:32am

Good point. Perfect answer.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

Neddy's picture
Neddy's picture
Neddy commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 9:31am

Unbelievable Alex is still alive. You can see at around 45:17 old mate trying to get him in and the guys on the beach can't seem to see whats going on. He has to be under for minutes??! Link is here - https://www.worldsurfleague.com/posts/446732/nazare-heat-6-full-replay

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 9:45am

Could even be longer. WSL have cut seven minutes from the footage.

Grim viewing...

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 9:33am

Reading a bit of criticism against the WSL online but for mine it seems a bit wayward. Only two times has the WSL (or ASP) had to deal with a life-threatening event being broadcast on a live webcast and both times it was something unexpected: a shark and a random ski accident.

They put contingencies in place for big wipeouts and the like, standard surfing dangers, but it's impossible to plan for every possible scenario.

One improvement, however, should be candour after the fact. No point the webcast rolling on and commentators pretending it didn't happen.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 9:44am

Commentators pretending it didn’t happen.. “He’ll get back on the sled and reset“ Comes to mind

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 9:51am

Couple of points of irony: Nazaré?is essentially one of several?'gladiator' chapters of surfing.?Without near-death experiences, it?kinda defeats the entertainment/broadcast?point of this event.

But, the few times I checked last night had about eight thousand concurrent viewers worldwide. So, it appears there's not much (sustained) interest in this kind of live broadcast either.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 9:58am

Ya can't win really... basically tune in for the carnage then when it happens ya feel ghoulish.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 10:07am

yep, I think some context and perspective is in order.

can happen anywhere, anytime.

people drop dead in 2ft surf.

Asian guy got washed off the rocks (fishing) here last easter during a swell.

first surfer to get to him was a 15 year old kid. Got the bloke up, semi-conscious coughing up blood, saltwater.
people managed to get him in on the rocks, nightmare with no skis.

Hard enough rocking off during a high tide, now imagine trying to get a basically dead body in on the rocks during those conditions.
The alternative, trying to get him through 500 yards of impact zone to the nearest beach was just not an option.

CPR before the chopper/ambo arrived.

He died.

They had every safety aspect covered at Nazare and shit still went pear shaped, but these are trained professionals.

Hope he's OK.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 10:06am

And now the WSL press release is in, with the heading:

"Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge Pres. By Jogos Santa Casa Celebrates High-Performance Big Wave Surfing with Best Surfers in the World"

A celebration? Seems an odd choice of word to sum up this kind of event.

soggydog's picture
soggydog's picture
soggydog commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 10:53am

Spot on FR, it could happen any where. I attended a a surfers rescue course put on by surfing WA and the local board riders. Really good course with a couple of recovery techniques using your board that I wish I’d known earlier.
Getting a body through the impact zone is physically exhausting.
If you see one advertised they’re a good idea especially if you surf unpatrolled beaches.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 10:58am

After watching the full webcast footage of the event, not the Instagram version which only goes for 20 seconds, I was wondering why the surfer who got to him didn't pull Alex's vest. Took him two minutes or more to get the body to shore when an inflated vest would have him there in a few waves.

Yeah, benefit of hindsight and all, but you'd have to think something like that might be part of future training skills.

jez's picture
jez's picture
jez commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 1:52pm

looks like those things have 4 pull tabs. Would be almost impossible not to grab onto one during a rescue. maybe it failed...

Jezdawg

Dowdy's picture
Dowdy's picture
Dowdy commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 11:22am

That is tough viewing, the commentators joking about it being ski gear and just a loose vest in the water not knowing it's a body, then they actually work out it's a surfer face down. Amazing he survived.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 11:31am

Despite a few crocodile tears the WSL would be celebrating the only metric it’s got to measure the success of this event.....the amount of times it’s discussed on the internet and the MSM.

Unfortunately for them , this still doesn’t translate into increased viewership for future events.

Dowdy's picture
Dowdy's picture
Dowdy commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 1:52pm

I started watching the full heat replay on the link supplied above. Found it pretty boring. These type of waves I'm happy to just watch the highlight waves after the event.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 11:34am

Jeez the time between the incident and then recovery onto the beach is long. So heavy, not good.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 11:53am

Can't believe he didn't die from that to be honest. I hope his brain is ok most of all.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 1:19pm

Agree. iirc time becomes very important when in that situation.

Dunko's picture
Dunko's picture
Dunko commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 12:43pm

Title states he is in critical condition, article says stable? Can’t be both. Amend one

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 2:03pm

Yes it can. According to Alfred Health:

"Critical but stable means vital signs are within normal limits. The patient is stable but may be unconscious. Their condition is life threatening."

Dunko's picture
Dunko's picture
Dunko commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 3:02pm

It’s still Misleading

“since being in a critical condition implies that a patient vital signs are not stable”

Currently, he is stable and conscious. He will stay at the hospital for further evaluation.".....doesn’t sound critical to me? Actually sounds like they’re just keeping an precautionary eye on him.

Critical contradicts stable,

Serious but stable might be more appropriate wording. call it what it is in the title, leave the click baiting for other.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 1:09pm

you got to expect accidents when you surf there, i hope for the best and he gets better.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 2:11pm

Really no different to the Isle of Mann TT which has a regular run of deaths. Madness but they still do it, only in the road race instance they get huge crowds and is a big deal world wide with audiences.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 3:11pm

Firtly tbb wishes best outcome for all...very sad news.

WSL surfers require more rescue assist than all other athletic Events.
Therefore this overarching risky rescue behaviour is the nature or the sport.
Surfers abort spacecraft & signal PWC shuttle, to avoid an Extreme flogging.
Less about skill more about sheer dumb luck that Scientist's get it right on the day.

(*Upfront...this is not about persecuting Pilots, rather more so respecting them.)

WSL pilots only require minimum 6hrs PWC training +2hrs PWC Tow operation.
WSL Guidelines for " PWC " (note: "Personal Water Craft" )
PWC Licence = 6hrs Flat-water Training.

WSL [173.02](a) 'PWC' will be allowed in 'Extreme Surf Conditions'.

WSL PWC Pilots [174] Suitable for [ BEACH CLOSED ] (Extreme Surf)
CPR 'Skills' (Cert?)
'PWC' Tow in/out licence -(Cert - 2hrs-min.)
http://towsurfer.com/pwc-and-tow-in-training/

PWC + " R " (Personal Water Craft + Rescue)
PWC (Cert')
'Lifeguard' Bronze
Swim 400m in 9m on final day
Module: With Sled,Rescue Tube , Capsize, Retrieval, Accidents,Surf Skills +All other.
Course - 4-days
https://www.srtacademy.com/pwc-jet-ski-surf-rescue-operator

SLSA - " RWC " ("Rescue Water Craft") Wave Height to 10-12ft [ BEACH CLOSED ]
Cert 1 Bronze
Cert 2 Silver Medallions
ART/C (First Aid) Advanced Resuscitation Certificate.
12 week course
2 yrs PWC licence
5 yrs Patrol Capt Preferable
http://surflifesaving.net.au/media/Lifesaving%20Docs/SNB%20RWC%20Trainin...
A/H Lifeguards / Lifesavers are prohibited from Tow surfing on...[CLOSED BEACHES]
Lose your Job & be exampled on the [Front Page] as a less than suitable Lifeguard.

Facts Show : WSL care least for safety and are least qualified to run a BTW.
Jetskis are now abused as Olympian's Chariots in a sea of spectators...(It's gotta stop!)

WSL never once awards untrained daring ["EXTREME"] rescues.
More skilful than the Lounging Pro athlete passengers much of the time.
More often WSL delete these wild rescues not wishing to draw attention.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2877058/Dramatic-rescue-pro-sur...

Rick Snowden's picture
Rick Snowden's picture
Rick Snowden commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 6:48pm

Great point, TBB.

steve.brown's picture
steve.brown's picture
steve.brown commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 4:05pm

Suicide bombers are nearly always young guys, so are soldiers, so are free climbers and sky divers and so are big wave riders. Nature has developed a disregard of danger in young men so that they could be brave (and stupid maybe?) when needed to protect their offspring. Survival of the fittest and all that. However, modern life doesn't threaten one's offspring much in an aggresive physical sense it's more threatening through illness, poverty, lack of education and......undertaking dangerous passtimes. I'm not in favour of preventing neanderthal types from doing dangerous stuff as it's natures way but, just be aware why these guys love to do this dangerous stuff.....they can't help it, it's in their genes. Personally, I'd rather make sure that my offspring have a father for as long as possible but good on 'em for sacrificing their well being for their (and my) pleasure.

mowgli's picture
mowgli's picture
mowgli commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 5:51pm

Yeesh. I know it comes at the end of everything he went through in the water and then being dragged from the water. But, for the sake of future incidents at least, seems someone still needs to explain to them the risk of spinal injury and how to transfer someone to a spinal board properly. They are just yanking at him, and even appears multiple people pulling different body parts at different times.

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”

Roadkill's picture
Roadkill's picture
Roadkill commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 6:06pm

No way should they stop it....and I hope they have another event. There is danger in many sports but it won’t stop people doing it. This event had the best safety in place.

D-Rex's picture
D-Rex's picture
D-Rex commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 6:48pm

adam12 you really have no idea (again). As if your opinion on Nazare being 'suitable' matters one iota. Maybe you still think Erik Logan is jealous of you... Find another past-time FFS.

adam12's picture
adam12's picture
adam12 commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 8:18pm

Wow D-Rex, BTL comments are for expressing opinions, you are obviously still hurt by something I said to you in the past. Get over it mate, it's just words, sticks'n stones and all that. Why do you care what I say or do? Dunno WTF you are talking about re. Eric Logan but feel free to have an opinion on me as I sure have one of you now. Must have hurt you deeply for you to hold this grudge all this time. Good.

D-Rex's picture
D-Rex's picture
D-Rex commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 6:51pm

steve.brown give us a break - grouping suicide bombers with people actually achieving something is pretty piss poor.

davidinindo's picture
davidinindo's picture
davidinindo commented Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 7:54pm

Waiting for this to happen...not surprising!!!

Davidinindo

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Thursday, 13 Feb 2020 at 1:29pm

Whether in contest or not, watching people tackle huge surf, live in person, and less often, remotely by video, can be fascinating watching. Nothing new or wrong in that. As surfer's, however, we have that extra dimension of memories of being out in heavy waves to add a far greater sense of drama than for a non surfer.

I have surfed eight foot random heaving A frames in shallow water and felt like an ancient American Indian dodging a series of random attacks from sabre tooth tigers hiding behind tree trunks on each paddle out hoping to somehow time it and head out through the saddle between peaks. So watching huge Nazarre, occasionally brings back those memories and a feeling of awe for what is going on out there - for perhaps a few seconds. Nevertheless, I watched about 15 minutes the other day of the contest and then went to bed.

If somehow, I was transported to the cliff face to watch or out onto a ski in the midst of it, it would be an amazing experience and I could watch all day.

A non surfer might have watch online for a few minutes and thought - "not much happening there" in between sets and if a set came through would have just had a momentary increase in pulse rate before switching to something else.

Herein lies the much discussed problem for the good old wozzle. In theory and for the inner wozzle circle who get up close and personal to an event like Nazarre, it should be the greatest show on earth transfixing millions. But in practice it becomes a distant cartoon like series of stick figures riding walls of water and draws in a tiny 8,000 viewers.

I watch with interest as Mr Grogan with his spreadsheets and MBA expertise solves that conundrum. A hard sell to sponsors. All is okay until Ziff loses interest. Or perhaps he is stuck where he cannot exit without a huge loss of face and the money lost is all worth it to not admit defeat.

Frogg

Remigogo's picture
Remigogo's picture
Remigogo commented Saturday, 15 Feb 2020 at 9:54am

That is just such a nasty wipe out.

7 minutes + until Alex reaches the shoreline in that washing machine. Beyond belief.

That should not have happened with only one bloke's knowing concern. Let's hope that doesn't happen again WSL.

Hope your are doing well Alex Botelho.

campbell's picture
campbell's picture
campbell commented Saturday, 15 Feb 2020 at 11:59am

Any update on Alex Bothelho, s condition? Seems like the story has been locked up.

...

theblacksheep's picture
theblacksheep's picture
theblacksheep commented Saturday, 15 Feb 2020 at 11:51pm

Hows old mate commentator (Sorry don’t know who it was, not PMel). The minute he realised it was a body I don’t know how many times he suggested they cut to a break, pull back to a wide shot etc. Credit to him but the control booth weren’t listening. They just kept rolling and he was stuck with what could’ve have been a death on camera. I thought he handled it well all things considered.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Thursday, 20 Feb 2020 at 2:08pm

Jeez, it's been a week and there's total radio silence. Is Alex ok?

Walk around G's picture
Walk around G's picture
Walk around G commented Monday, 24 Feb 2020 at 7:52pm

Wow, one lucky warrior, t'was touch and go time wise I guess. Onya matey, all the best with the recovery.

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