Famed Brazilian surfer Márcio Freire died Thursday while riding waves off the central coast of Portugal, officials said.
Freire, 47, — who appeared with two other pioneering Brazilian surfers in “Mad Dogs,” a 2016 documentary about their attempt to conquer the giant wave “Jaws” in Hawaii — suffered the fatal accident in Nazaré, authorities said.
He had been tow-in surfing, a technique in which surfers are pulled into giant waves with the use of watercraft, according to a statement from the Portuguese National Maritime Authority.
“A 47-year-old man of Brazilian nationality died this afternoon after falling while practicing surfing in Praia do Norte,” the authority said in a statement.
“The rescuers found that the victim was in cardio-respiratory arrest, immediately starting resuscitation maneuvers on the sand. After several attempts, it was not possible to reverse the situation,” it added.
The cause of death was not immediately available.
“The Municipality of Nazaré presents its deepest condolences to the entire bereaved family as well as to the entire surfing community,” the city told USA Today in an email.
Tributes poured in from across the surfing community around the world.
“Today we lost a great man, a very good friend and a legendary surfer, Marcio Freire. He was such a happy spirit, always with a smile on his face,” sports photographer Fred Pompermayer wrote on Instagram.
“He was one of the three ‘Mad Dogs’ who started paddling at Jaws in the early days. He will be forever greatly missed. Rest in peace my friend,” he added.
Fellow surfer Nic von Rupp wrote: “He surfed all day with a big smile on his face. That’s how I’ll keep him in my memory. Legend.”
Freire’s fellow Brazilian surfer Thiago Jacare called his close friend “more than an idol” and “a true hero.”
The huge waves of Nazaré — about 75 miles north of Lisbon and 130 miles south of Porto — are magnified by an underwater canyon that is 3 miles deep and ends where the North Atlantic meets the shoreline near the former fishing village.
In 2011, Hawaiian Garrett McNamara put Nazaré on the map when he set a world record for the biggest wave ever surfed at the time — at 78 feet..
Six years later, Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa bettered McNamara’s mark, also at Nazaré, and German Sebastian Steudtner broke the record again there on Oct. 29, 2020, when he surfed an 86-feet wave.
Local officials said sea conditions were not particularly dangerous at the time of Freire’s death.
Rescuers managed to get him to the beach, but all attempts to revive him failed, according to reports.
Freire had reportedly lived for about 20 years in Hawaii, the daredevil sport’s traditional homeland.
With Post Wires