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Irina Kosobukina conquered immense waves of Nazare

Meet Irina Kosobukina who is the first Russian surfer girl to have conquered the waves of Nazare! Ira is a member of the Russian national surfing team; she has repeatedly won Russian Championships both in shortboard and longboard. According to the results of recent training camps in Portugal, Ira has again joined Russia’s main team and will represent the country at international competitions. Apart from surfing, she’s also keen on paragliding, freediving, snowboarding and parachuting. She’s recently got addicted to big wave surfing and on February 24, 2019 conquered several 10-meter waves of Nazare!

“I was riding for eternity and when I got off the wave I screamed with delight. My heart was pounding making my whole body throb.”

Special thanks to Sergey Shakuto for magnificent photos!

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Ira gladly told us about how it all was in an interview for our surf school.

Surf - terms found in the article:
  • Big wave surfing is a kind of surfing performed on waves of at least 20 feet (6.2 m). This is a completely different type of surfing, which is very dangerous and involves serious training.
  • Tow-in surfing - a surfing variation, where getting on a wave requires jets (jet skis).
  • Lip – the curling part of a wave.
  • Nazare - a place in Portugal, where the world’s largest waves suitable for surfing come.

To begin with, please, tell us a little about yourself? How have you come to surfing, how long have you been into it?

I started to ride 11 years ago when I first came to Bali. At that time my vacation has come to an end too soon and, upon getting back to Moscow, I couldn’t stop thinking about the island and surfing. Three months later, me and my boyfriend made up our minds to leave for Bali for an indefinite period. Then I thought it would be a year at its best, but the island didn’t let me go, and I’ve been calling it home for more than 10 years since then. Now I spend less than 6 months a year there. I often visit Russia and travel around the world participating in competitions, training and working on my own projects. My professional activity is the organization of sports and cultural events in Russia and abroad.

When did you start to feel like riding the world’s biggest waves?

I’ve never wished that, really. But Nazare is a unique place. The first time I saw those waves (and that, by the way, happened just three days before my first ride there), I was struck by the might of the ocean. These waves fascinate with their incredible energy. I truly wished to get to know them closer, but even then I had no idea that someday I’d find it in my heart to ride there. I got the offer a couple of days later from my friend Dolphin (Andrei Ovchinnikov), who said that there was an ideal swell coming, for me to try surfing in Nazare.

Were you at the training camp in Portugal when the swell reached Nazare. How did you bring yourself to it?

I doubted the venture till the very last moment, since the training was the priority, according to the results of which the coach set the basic Russian national surfing team list. However, when I shared with my coach the idea of making a ride in Nazare, he supported me and allowed me to play one training session hookey for the sake of such a thing. As a result, I confirmed my arrival to Andrey in the morning, jumped into the car and rushed off to Nazare. We only had a couple of hours, because I had to get back to the evening training. Luckily everything worked out well. I caught three unforgettable waves and once got into a set, feeling the full power of the waves.

What was the biggest wave you'd ever conquered before Nazare?

All my greatst waves were in Indonesia. First, there was a wave of 3-4 growth in Mentawai on the Scarecrowls spot, then in Bali in Impossibles and Padang-Padang. Big wave surfing is a totally different thing. It's hard to call it fun, but the adrenaline rush and the feeling of something on the verge of life and death is a powerful habit-forming drug.

Did you feel like quitting while waiting at the line-up?

It was extremely exciting, but I didn’t want to quit. I really wished to try. And after the first wave there was no trace of doubts.

How did you train / get ready for the event?

I’ve been freediving for quite a while; therefore I had no fear of finding myself under water for a long time. Even before Portugal, I spent three weeks in the mountains, snowboarding, which really helped me to feel strength and control in legs. Well, and thanks to regular training, I was generally in good shape. Apart from physical training on big waves, mental attitude and the ability to maintain inner tranquility are crucial. In this respect, many years of yoga practice and meditation came in handy.

Tell me about your feelings on the wave?

Initially, the speed when Andrei pulled me after the jet was immense. It seemed that a slightest mistake or a bump, and I’d fall on water like on asphalt. Yet when I let the halyard go and went off the wave, time seemed to slow down. I saw that enormous wall in front of me and heard the rumble of a collapsing lip from behind. It all looked as if in slow motion. I was riding for eternity and when I got off the wave I screamed with delight. My heart was pounding making my whole body throb.

What would you wish to our students, dreaming of big wave surfing?

I wish everyone follow their dream, whatever it is. Remember that everything is possible, and the only limits we have are in our heads. If your dream of big wave surfing, then, apart from surfing, do freediving, pump your legs, meditate, improve your balance and surely do not rush. It’s essential to be sober assessing your current abilities and choose appropriate conditions for surfing.

Ira, thanks a lot for answering our questions. Once again, let us congratulate you on such a cool life experience and we’re grateful for the example you set for us to strive to be better and progress in surfing!


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