Nov 24, 2022

Daring Jobs Episode 2: Calm & Fury

For a Big Wave Rescue Team the difference between life and death is mere seconds, and precision is everything.

When just a few seconds is the difference between life and death, precision is everything.

Nazaré, Portugal, offers some of the gnarliest surfing conditions on Planet Earth. Waves can tower more than 10 stories tall and a new one arrives every 10-15 seconds. Even the best surfers can’t tackle this challenge on their own. The waves come too fast, and too hard – it would be impossible for the surfers to reach the waves without assistance, let alone safely escape after each attempt to ride one.

Daring jet ski pilots act as their lifelines in the water, guiding surfers into the paths of the waves and – critically – pulling them out of harm’s way after each wipeout. These men and women put themselves in danger as part of a complex ecosystem that supports some of the most daring and adventurous athletes you’ll find anywhere in the world. You don’t get rich or famous doing this, either. It’s a true labor of love, and a risky one at that.

Each person involved, from the surfers to the jet ski pilots to the support teams on land, must be passionate about what they're doing, carefully trained, and always vigilant to ensure they’re at their best. Anything less is unacceptable – and possibly deadly.

The action takes place out in the Atlantic Ocean, where there is no bay or cove to calm the sea’s power. Freezing whitewater conditions can look and feel like a blizzard. Visibility is low, danger is high, and you can feel the tension rise as each wave quickly approaches the craggy shore. The sheer size of these waves makes spotting a fallen surfer like finding a needle in a haystack and there’s not a single moment for indecision. Each jet ski pilot needs complete focus and to know that his tools – such as his jet ski, life vest, and watch – aren’t going to leave him high and dry when it matters most.

The Tudor Pelagos is the rare wristwatch that is up to this punishing task. Its bold dial is always easy to read, even as its wearer is darting between 14-metre swells with surgeon-like precision, and its lightweight titanium case is robust enough to take beating after beating, wave after wave. The signature rubber strap ensures that it remains comfortable even in the most uncomfortable circumstances. And out on the water, discomfort is the order of the day.

Some of these jet ski pilots are born and bred in Nazaré. For them, a respect for the sea is in their blood and their connection to the waves is undeniable. Others come from every corner of the globe, looking for something different. The waves of Nazaré are a crucible, testing those who challenge them, pushing them to new places, and teaching them as much about what they have inside themselves as what they’re tackling outside.

Watches mentioned