During the sixties, there was already a handful of Portuguese surfers that managed to catch waves in a country where there were no surf shops or surfboard shapers.
In 1976 Surfer magazine published a news article that made Portugal well-known.
The first surf competition in Portugal took place in Ericeira, in 1977 and the second competition in Peniche. Little by little EPSA (European Professional Surfing Association), WQS (World Qualify Series), and even some years later WCT (World Champion Tour) competitions began.
The first surf boards made in Portugal came on the market in the late 70ies and early 80ies. However nowadays there is a great amount of shapers, suit factories, web sites and specialized surfing magazines, in Portugal. Surfers, such as Tiago Pires, has raised the competitive level in Portugal. There are more than 60 thousand registered surfers in a country of 10 million people. That makes Portugal one of the biggest surfing nations in Europe.
When prince Henry the Navigator started his enterprise, that would start the Portuguese Age of Discoveries, at his Vila do Infante, the Sagres peninsula lacked the necessary requirements for such large undertakings by its scarcity of water (although it was surrounded by the atlantic ocean, it was a promontory after all), minimal agriculture, lack of wood for shipbuilding and a small population. Henry repopulated a village called Terçanabal that was deserted due to the continuous pirate attacks to the coast. The village was situated in a strategic position for his maritime enterprises and was latter called Vila do Infante..
He engaged an expert map and instrument-maker, Jayme of Majorca, so that his captains might have the best nautical information. This probably led to the legend of the Nautical School of Sagres (although a "school" also means a group of followers). There was no center of navigational science or any supposed "observatory", if compared to the modern definition of "observatory" or "navigational center", as Russell makes very clear. The centre of his expeditions was actually at Lagos.
This was a time of many important discoveries: cartography was refined with the use of newly devised instruments, such as an improved astrolabium and improved sundial, maps were regularly updated and extended, and a revolutionary type of vessel was designed: the caravel.
Prince Henry built a chapel next to his house in 1459, as he began to spend more and more time in Sagres in his later years. He died at Sagres on 13th November 1460.
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