Madeira News: SURF CULTURE: Paul do Mar & Jardim do Mar

Surfing first started in the Portuguese island of Madeira in the 1970s at the surfspots of Paul do Mar, Punta Pequena, part of the freguesia of Paul do Mar and Jardim do Mar.


Almost all the surfspots are rocky and powerful. No waves seem to break under six feet in the winter months. Madeira did not really come to the attention of foreign surfers until articles in surfing magazines in the mid-1990s.

Since 1996, top Portuguese surfers from the mainland have competed in surfing competitions such as the Madeira regional edition of the ‘Billabong’ Challenge.

In 2001, the World Big Wave Championships were held in Madeira.

One of the more memorable sessions in the history of Madeira surfing occurred on January 25th, 1995 at Jardim Do Mar when Portuguese big wave legend José Seabra and the Californian artist/rapper/surfer Ithaka rode absolutely flawless waves up to eight metres.

Photographs of the session by João Valente appeared in publications around the world including the cover of Surf Portugal Magazine. The conditions which were some of the cleanest and glassiest ever recorded at the classic big wave point break, inspired Ithaka to write the song Seabra Is Mad about Seabra’s courageous performance on that day. The song was released on Ithaka’s 2nd album Stellafly (1997) won a “Song Of The Year” award and “Video Of The Year” by the Portuguese Publico newspaper. Ithaka also wrote two other songs inspired by surfing in Madeira, “Eden By The Sea” (also from the album, Stellafly and “Been Four Years” (album Flowers And The Color Of Paint).

In 2012, Paul Mandaca, a Brazilian Blues rock performer used a version of Eden By The Sea as the title track of his debut album.

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