[All photos + captions: Helio Antonio]
You may have noticed the name Helio Antonio pop up on Surfline more and more over the past year or so. The locally-born surfer/lensman has been one of Nazare’s best and most prolific documentarians for nearly a decade. He understands Praia do Norte’s ever-shifting moods better than most, and has explored shooting the place from every angle possible, earning all kinds of accolades and awards in the process.
Last week, when we saw a series of swells hitting Europe, we went into Atlantic Overdrive, and started covering the special event in realtime. We knew Nazare was going to be XL for multiple days, and that the WSL was going to hold their tow-in event there — which meant that there was no shortage of visiting shooters and surfers on hand to document the a-framed carnage. And yes, it was a spectacle, seen by many.
But we also knew that there is way more to Portugal than Nazare. We knew that Portugal is holding all kinds of surf for regular, non-XL-loving surfers. And so we asked Helio to take the road less traveled. “Anywhere but Nazare,” we asked. And he got in his car before dawn for four straight days and captured some of the most beautiful images we saw from the whole run of swell. Many of the surfers are unidentified, meaning they could be like a buddy you see at your local every day. Many of the spots are also unidentified, ’cause, well, he didn’t tell and we didn’t ask.
“Funny how Nazare is still kicking ass, and just one hour away you can go get some fun barrels,” he said on day three of the run. “The vibe is really good! Just about anyone who can be in the water is in the water. After long days on the road, I’m sure: Portugal is one of the best places on earth at this time of year.”
Based on these images, we’re inclined to agree. The Irish Slab may have won the Atlantic Overdrive battle, but Portugal took the war.
Watch: The Portuguese slab that got away (and one that didn’t)