• Jen Booton

Monster Wave in Nazaré Hospitalizes WSL Athlete After Serious Crash

Video of pro big wave surfer Alex Botelho sparks backlash among fans

Big wave surfer Alex Botelho was sent to the hospital and is in stable condition after what the World Surf League called “a very serious incident” at the legendary surf spot Nazaré in Portugal.

The Portuguese surfer was participating in the league’s Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge, in which athletes are towed by jet skis onto monster waves. According to a video released by WSL, Botelho was being towed when both he and the jet ski were caught between two massive colliding waves. Both of them were tossed several feet in the air before crashing back into the choppy waters and getting rolled by another wave.

The video shows Botelho’s body floating in the swirling foam near the shore as several lifeguards and emergency personnel pick him from the water and drag him ashore.

“He was rushed to the hospital and is currently stable and conscious,” WSL said in a statement with the video posted a few hours after the incident. “A heartfelt thank you to the safety and medical teams for their quick response. We are wishing Alex a full and speedy recovery.”

The fact that WSL released the video at all was met with mixed emotion from people in the sport. Pro surfer Albee Layer, who has 111,000 Instagram followers and has surfed in WSL competitions, called the surf league’s video clickbait.

“Our lives are clickbait,” he said in a comment that as of Wednesday morning had 600 likes.

The video was shared across WSL’s social media channels, which have massive engagement. The league has 3.6 million Instagram followers, 6.8 million Facebook users, 2 million Twitter followers and 600,000 YouTube subscribers.

“I have to agree, it’s clickbait for kooks,” responded Instagram user Josh Winsor. “But the core are 100% behind you guys .. putting your life on the line the push the sport where us mortals can only dream.”