Brazilian big wave surfer Marcio Freire died while surfing along the central coast of Portugal on Thursday, local officials confirmed.
Before his death, the 47-year-old man was practicing rope surfing on giant waves in Nazaré, the country’s national maritime authority told USA TODAY on Friday morning. “The surfer had an accident while surfing, which left him lifeless.” the city wrote in an email to USA TODAY on Friday.
According to the captain of the port of Nazaré Mário Lopes Figueiredo, support personnel on jet skis were able to get Freire to the beach in Nazaré, but attempts to revive him failed.
Lifeguards confirmed the victim was in cardiac arrest and immediately began CPR until first responders arrived, according to a news release.
When they were unable to revive him, city officials said, a doctor pronounced him dead at the scene.
“The municipality of Nazaré presents its deepest condolences to the entire bereaved family as well as to the entire surfing community,” the city wrote in its email, praising the efforts of those who cared for Freire.
The city is approximately 75 miles north of Lisbon and 130 miles south of Porto.
Freire was one of the three Brazilian surfers who became known as the “Mad Dogs” after conquering the giant wave “Jaws” in Hawaii. He was featured in the 2016 documentary “Mad Dogs.”
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Tributes from fellow surfers and those who knew him poured into social media following his death.
“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… Rest in peace my friend,” sports photographer Fred Pompermayer posted alongside a photo of the legendary surfer.
“Marcio is a legend and was an inspiring waterman who was always a pleasure to be on the water with,” American surfer Zane KekoaSchweitzer responded to the post.
“Man this hurts. So special,” wrote Maui native and surfer Ian Walsh.
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Hawaiian Garrett McNamara put Nazaré on the map on November 1, 2011, when he set the world record for the largest wave ever surfed at 78 feet.
In 2017, Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa topped McNamara’s mark — also at Nazaré — and Germany’s Sebastian Steudtner broke the record there again in 2020, when he rode an 86-foot wave, per Surfer Today.