During the Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge in Portugal, just north of Lisbon, big wave surfer Alex Botelho suffered a very serious injury after crashing at the event. Botelho wiped out and had to be brought back to shore by jet ski pilot Hugo Vau, but the two were hit by massive waves that launched them into the air.
Botelho eventually washed to the shore after being hit by several huge waves. When rescue workers ran to check on him, Botelho was unconscious and taken to a local hospital.
Botelho and Vau saw the jet ski become surrounded by a wall of water and they were violently thrown towards the shore. Rescuers were able to get to Botelho and Vau once they landed on the shore. Upon landing on the shore, Botelho was unconscious and immediately was placed on a backboard and rushed to a local hospital.
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Big Wave Surfer @alex_botelho was involved in a very serious incident during the Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge. He 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. A heartfelt thank you to the safety and medical teams for their quick response. We are wishing Alex a full and speedy recovery.
"Currently, he [Botelho] is stable and conscious. He will stay at the hospital for further evaluation," the World Surfing League said a statement on Tuesday.
The Nazare Toe Surfing Challenge was the first team-oriented big wave tow-in event in World Surfing League history. The league annually has a tow surfing challenge in Praia do Norte, Portugal, but has never been a team-oriented event in the past.
There were ten different teams of surfers that participated in the event that towed each other out to the massive waves on jet skis.
Multiple surfers have nearly died at Nazare over the years. In fact, another professional surfer, Damien Hobgood, had a jet ski land on him at a previous Nazare event in 2005 and was seriously injured. Hobgood was on his way out for a semifinal heat of the Nazare Challenge when he was thrown into the air during the crash while riding on the jet ski.