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TKM54 TANGLED LINES LEGENDS Nuno Figueiredo by Mike Davis 1 2 1200x800 - TANGLED LINES LEGENDS: Nuno Figueiredo


Nuno ‘Stru’ Figueiredo from Portugal is renowned for riding big waves and tucking into barrels. With Nazaré on his doorstep, it was natural he became the first kitesurfer to tackle the huge waves there and he went on to secure a Guinness World Record for the largest wave ever kitesurfed. We asked other wave riders and his fellow Eleveight team riders to throw some questions at him, to find out more about the mindset needed to ride giant waves.


Pablo Amores

How did you get into big wave riding? 

Hola Pablo, I started to surf in 1991 (and kitesurfing in 2001) and my local spots are heavy with big waves during the winter time – Atlantic Ocean full power! I believe that the mindset of a surfer is made from the spots he wants to surf and perform well at. Growing up seeing the development of big wave surfing helped me to understand this reality. I started to kite big waves (up to six meters) in 2007 at a spot called Aguda near my home, then Papoa, Peniche in 2013 and then Nazaré in 2016.

Peri Roberts

What was your main inspiration for being the first to kite Nazaré? As a challenge, or simply to claim as first to do it?

My main inspiration to kite Nazaré came from a day when I went there to see the tow-in guys in 2013. I started to feel the challenge inside me and the feeling that I could do it wouldn’t stop growing. Not doing it would mean regretting it for the rest of my life and that was a feeling that I didn’t want. After my first big session there in 12-meter waves in 2016, I was hooked on trying to go bigger.

Kiko Roig Torres

How did you train mentally to have a go at Nazaré? Does it scare you to think that the lines and kite could be a problem in the big waves?

Kiko, you got straight to the hardest point! I can tell you, the most difficult part is the night before and checking the waves and wind on the day. You need a good night’s sleep and to calm your brain when watching those bombs hitting the cliff. I practice the DeRose Method to help my mind and breathing process (besides doing apnea training). That kitemare scenario you mention can’t even cross your mind when you are about to go in the water. I had a big crash in 2020 and only when I was back on the beach packing my stuff did I realize that it could have been my last session there or anywhere.

Hendrick Lopes

What size lines do you use? As the waves are so much bigger, there must be a lack of wind between sets! 

Kitesurfing an 18 to 26 meter day in Nazaré is something that doesn’t make any sense in the normal world. I tend to use 24m lines, and the sets are the same size so you feel like a windsurfer or wingfoiler – your kite and lines size are nothing out there. The wind has to be in a perfect direction so you have wind all the time. It took me four years of sessions there to understand the right angle.

Capucine Delannoy

How did it feel to break a world record?

My main goal was to ride a huge bomb, and the world record was just a consequence of it. It feels pretty amazing but that feeling of going down a mountain of water is priceless…

Tom Court

How many times per year do you kite Nazaré?

In Nazaré it is very hard to get all the conditions to come together. You can have from zero to three sessions per year. In the past, I’ve seen it breaking perfectly and there was no jet ski driver available or willing to go. The logistics are more difficult than people think. You already foiled there recently Tom, and know how crazy it can get nowadays.

Arthur Guillebert

I see you use the RS as well as the WS. When do you choose which kite?

When is just pure wave riding I go with the WS. I use the RS when my goal is to do big jumps. I had a project to do the biggest jump off the biggest kicker I could find in Nazaré, and my viral jump in 2017 was the draft of this idea. In 2019 I caught a stormy session when the conditions were ridiculous and super unstable – my jet ski driver Sergio Cosme had difficulty exiting Nazaré’s harbor because there were waves where he’d never seen them before! I made some insane jumps, but only in 2021 did I take a WOO which measured a 24-meter jump that is still my personal record. Last time I attempted big jumps was last year, with similar conditions, but I took too big a kite and I ended up just trying to survive. Arthur, maybe you can come here and break the world record – imagine a 15-meter kicker plus jumping 25 meters… Boom!

Jan Burgdörfer

Do you surf a lot on no-wind days in order to upgrade your kite level, and if so, how does it help?

I start surfing 32 years ago and have never stopped. Surfing allows you to understand the ocean better and how to read each wave.


What else do you do other than kitesurfing and surfing?

In the sea I do SUP, tow-in and foiling. If conditions aren’t right for any of my water activities (which isn’t very often!) I will cycle or swim in a pool. I have a kite school in Porto – strukite.com – which keeps me busy during the summer time and allows me to be free during the winter for kite trips and to compile footage for my sponsors.

Lee Harvey

You seem to be constantly getting barreled on your frontside going right, whether kiting or surfing. When was the last time you went left?!

I think that the last time I rode proper lefthand barreling waves was in Indonesia in 2014 and maybe the last time we were together in Cape Verde! All the major spots in Portugal are rights where I have learnt a lot and where, of course, I feel much more comfortable. Unfortunately when I started to kite I couldn’t change my stance after 10 solid years of surfing like I see some guys doing. Even going left in surfing is a much bigger challenge.

Carl Ferreira

What is your favorite trick to do on a wave?

My favorite trick is a normal downwind aerial and my favorite move is barreling! Positioning yourself inside a barrel is one of the hardest and most thrilling things in kite wave riding.

Arthur Guillebert

Do you ride your Curl+ with wax? When do you prefer wax to a front footpad?

Yes, I always ride with wax. I started to surf with wax and can’t change my mindset now! It just feels too weird to have that extra centimeter of rubber under the front foot.

Peri Roberts

Do you feel the same rush kiting smaller, punchier waves as the big ones? 

Yes I love any kind of wave riding. If the waves are good I feel like a kid at Christmas time.


Are there many other riders who join you in riding Nazaré or Supertubes? Who inspires you or challenges you?

There is a kid from Guincho – Afonso Paes Fernandes – who sometimes joins me in heavy Supertubes days. We had a session in Guincho eight years ago that was the biggest day I’ve ever seen there and he handled it pretty well despite the tricky conditions. With the right mindset and training he can go to the next level. Since James “Storm” started living in Portugal and José “Silverkitesurfer” started joining me in the big sessions at Nazaré and other secret spots, it’s helped me a lot in making the right calls. I believe that James in the future is going to add some meters to the world record, which he deserves after showing so much commitment. I also follow the Hawaiian guys at Jaws, like Patri and Jesse, who are always putting on a show to demonstrate what can be done in those monsters with a kite.

Tom Court

What was your favorite wave session of 2023?

Haha Tom, you know very well – you were there! Insane barrels and good friends on a remote island off Africa, an amazing combination… [Ed: as seen in issue 52]

Pablo Amores

How much would it cost someone – who is ready – to get into massive waves, such as jet ski costs? 

A lot Pablo, a lot! I have a jet ski with Hugo Abreu in Porto that we use to surf big barrels around there and for our kite school rescue. If you buy one, be ready to spend at least 10k and if something goes wrong in the surf the bill can be very high. If you go for a kite session in Nazaré and book a rescue jet ski driver it can cost you from 500€ to 1000€ depending on the conditions. I did a season as a jet ski driver for big wave surfer Marcelo Luna, and I can tell you that the price is actually cheap for the job and risk involved. Safety first!

Amy Strzalko, Eleveight team rider

What has been your biggest kitemare to date? Mine was getting hooked by a trawling fishing boat… true story! What was yours and how did you pull yourself out of it?

Mine was a long time ago, maybe 2003, involving a death loop with a C-shape kite and a “suicide” leash on the back of my harness. Safety was awful in those days. Luckily, after 150 meters going backwards and almost drowning, the kite fell in the water and I had half a second to release the kite. At Nazaré the worst was a wipeout in 2018, but I managed to kiteloop myself out of the situation, praying that the kite wouldn’t jellyfish with so many opposing forces applied.

Kaimar Halliste

What is the scariest situation you’ve ever been in outside of kiting?

Actually it was only last year on a surf trip to Madeira. I was surfing four-meter waves at a rocky spot in Jardim do Mar and a huge set came and I was caught inside. I was ejected towards the shore, passing between two huge rocks. I was underwater waiting for the impact but amazingly neither me nor my board suffered any damage. When I reached the channel I couldn’t believe I was alive.

Caroline Morris, Eleveight Content Manager

You seem to always find some secret spots and conditions that mere mortals miss out on. What are your tips for scoring legendary sessions?

“Mere mortals,” haha! I think it is a matter of years of studying the weather and understanding in reality what the forecasts can provide. Be aware that I have also had a lot of failed sessions – it is all part of it – you always learn something. For example, I once took a three-hour flight to an island to check if it was possible to kitesurf big waves there and ended up surfing only one-meter waves then flew back the next day. It’s funny that every time I do my kite wave clinics people are amazed by how much information is important to know to score good sessions. People have to understand that before doing amazing turns in the wave they have to be at the right time to catch them and that means a lot of weather and surf forecast knowledge.

Arthur Guillebert

If you wipe out in a wave and drop your kite, how do you relaunch the kite quickly and what do you do when pulled under the water? Do you ride with a safety leash or without?

Arthur, if you drop the kite in big waves, let it go! No, I don’t use a safety leash when it’s heavy but I always use a leash on my surfboard. It’s a floatation device that can get you out of dangerous situations. Ride safe.

Bennet Hoop, Eleveight team rider

What was the personal positive outcome you took from the experience of realizing the biggest wave kitesurfed? What would you recommend other kiters to do to make their personal dreams come true?

I believe that you should set goals in your life and work hard to achieve them. People might tell you that is impossible or too hard to even try something, so most of the time the best thing is to keep it to yourself until you actually do it. The first time I kited big waves at Nazaré I had with me Jorge Leal taking footage and Sergio Cosme on the jet ski, and no one else had any idea what was going on! The outcome will make you feel truly alive and is an ultimate sensation of personal fulfillment…

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