8 Best Portuguese Surfers

Portugal is located in Southern Europe and is one of the best places to surf. It is situated close to the Atlantic Ocean, providing different kinds of waves, from smaller swells for beginners to powerful swells perfect for advanced surfers.

It’s not surprising, then, for Portugal to have produced great surfers, both men and women, who competed in both national and international surfing competitions. Here are some of them:

5 Best Portuguese Male Surfers 

1. Pedro Martins de Lima 

He is considered the pioneer of surfing in Portugal; hence, he is referred to as the father of Portuguese surfing. 

Pedro Martins de Lima’s interest in surfing began in 1945, but due to a lack of surfing equipment, he had no choice but to resort to bodysurfing. It was only in 1956 that he officially started using a 16-kilogram wooden surfboard and rode the waves at Carcavelos Beach in Portugal

Before he passed away at 92, he was a brand ambassador for Lightning Bolt and inspired young Portuguese to pick up the sport of surfing. 

If you want to learn more about his passion for surfing, you can read the book entitled “Historia do Surf em Portugal - As Origens." 

2. Frederico Morais 

Nicknamed Kikas, Frederico Morais, a native of the coastal town of Cascais, is one of Portugal’s highest ranking surfer of all time. The surfing world first got a taste of the powerful style of Morais in 2016 when he won the top prize in the Martinique Surf Pro. In the following years, he has proved his mettle by placing high in several World Qualifying Series (WQS) competitions.

Eyeing to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics after failing to compete in the Tokyo Olympics due to a positive COVID test, he is one of the ten male surfers that will compete in the 2024 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour with his previous qualifier in this category back in 2017.

 3. Nic von Rupp 

Nic von Rupp, born in 1990 in Lisbon, Portugal, is well known for his love of huge waves. In November 2020, it was stated that he had successfully tackled the massive waves at Nazaré, also known as Praia do Norte, which holds the world record for having the world's largest waves

Nic von Rupp began competing at an early age. In 2007, he finished second on the European Pro Circuit, qualifying him for the World Junior Championships, where he finished fifth in 2008. 

He received his baptism of fire in the World Qualifying Series in 2009. 2013, he was awarded European Surfer of the Year and garnered accolades at the Perfect Chapter and the World Surf League.

The accolades do not end at those events because, in 2015, he was awarded 2nd place at the ISA World Surfing Games held in Nicaragua. In 2018, he was ranked #29 in the men’s big wave. 

4. Tiago Pires

Well-known for his carve surfing technique that utilizes corkscrew maneuvers, Tiago Pires is the first male surfer from Portugal to make his name among the elite surfers in the world. Born in Lisbon, “Saca,” as he is fondly referred to, fell in love with surfing starting at the age of 9. 

He joined the Portugal surfing circuit at the age of 16 and went on to become the country’s first surfer to compete in the World Qualifying Series (WQS), which culminated in 2010 when he reached 21st in ranking in the world.

At the age of 36, he announced his retirement from the sport after suffering a knee injury and is currently running a surfing school in Portugal focusing on young kids to learn about the joys of surfing.

5. Vasco Ribeiro 

Vasco Ribeiro was just 7 when he first got into surfing on the Praia da Poca beaches. This is where he honed his winning skills that later on bagged him a record 5 titles in the Liga MEO Surf in Portugal. 

In 2014, he became the first Portuguese to win the WSL World Junior Championship. He has also helped clinch the bronze title for the Portuguese team at the World Surfing Games in La Libertad in 2021.

In November 2023, he announced a 5-month hiatus from surfing after suffering a facial injury in Morocco where he fell and hit his face on a rock while tube riding a wave. 

3 Best Portuguese Female Surfers

1. Teresa Bonvalot 

A professional surfer, Teresa Bonvalot was born in 1999 and started surfing at the young age of 9. Who wouldn’t be impressed with her achievements? At the age of 15, she received her first National title and then defended it the following year. 

Her achievements at a young age do not end there because she went on winning not just once but for 2 consecutive years at the European junior surfing competition. 

Her ultimate dream is to qualify as the first Portuguese woman in the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour.  But while she’s still working on that ultimate dream, Teresa has once again proven her excellent surfing skills by qualifying at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

2. Yolanda Hopkins

Rising female surfer athlete Yolanda Hopkins represented Portugal in the inaugural surfing event in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, finishing fifth. She has since added more titles to her credit by winning 3 consecutive years in the Boardmasters Open in England, one of the European qualifying circuits.

A native of Faro, Portugal, Hopkins was born Yolanda Hopkins Sequeira to a British mother and a Portuguese father. Starting in her junior career, she used her mother’s name during competitions.

Hopkins is hoping to represent her country again in the 2024 Olympics, which will be held on the beach of Teahupo’o in Tahiti.

3. Joana Rocha 

Joana is the first Portuguese woman who went on to become a professional surfer. Her remarkable achievements include being the junior national champion in 1998 and 1999 and a national surfing champion in 2009. She put an end to her professional surfing career in 2012. She is currently managing her surf hostel in Portugal. 

James Davis

Written by James Davis

I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.

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