Surfing in Portugal: An interview with Miguel Blanco
Born and raised in Portugal, Miguel Blanco, 24 years old, is one of Portugal’s finest professional surfers.
How did you get into surfing?
I got into surfing when I was 7 years old. I was just a normal kid you know. I had a lot of energy growing up so I tried every single sport and I wasn’t really into any of them but then I found surfing. Since day one I got completely hooked and my life has been surfing ever since.
What role did Tiago Pires play for you growing up and for Portuguese surfing in large?
Tiago has always been a Portuguese hero. He brought all eyes to Portugal and to surfing history. He fought on the QS for years and finally after fighting against the top surfers he made it on the CT. A Portuguese surfer on tour means a lot. Especially to the kids, like myself, who look up to him. Tiago’s coach is actually my coach now. His name is Zé Seabra. He picked me up when I was 20 years old. At the time, I was struggling and he changed the game for me and started to really push me into training harder and traveling more.
What other surfers did you look up to?
Nic Von Rupp, Fredrico Morais and of course all the international surfers — Andy Irons, Dane Reynolds, Mick Fanning, Tom Lowe. Anyone who is true to themselves. Anyone who rips both in their free surfing and competitively… man there’s too many to name haha. But really, every surfer is different and especially in the higher levels, each surfer has something uniquely special that you have to respect and learn from. I think everyone can learn from everyone cause no one is perfect.
What are your thoughts on the rising talent coming out of Portugal?
Portugal is one of the best countries in the world surfing wise that’s for sure. We have beach breaks, reef breaks, we have Nazare, and we have a little bit of everything for everyone and anyone. Surfing is basically a new sport in Portugal. We are only second-generation surfers. My Dad did not surf before me. More and more rising groms are going to come from Portugal. We have groms that are being born at Nazare and surfing is definitely in our blood. I can’t wait to see the fire in the next generation of Portuguese surfers. I will be there helping them in any way that I can and share my experiences with them.
How was it surfing against Gabriel Medina at Super Tubos last fall?
That guy is a beast. He is nuts. When you are competing it is so much more than just your performance on the wave but how you get connected with the wave and how to find the full potential of the wave. If there was a good wave coming from the left side he would have been there and if there was a wave on the right he was just there. I was stoked to be on the CT event again but would have loved to beat him. Next time.
Photo by: António Saraiva
What is your go-to board?
I’ve been riding my Killer Fish pretty much all the time! It’s a little 5’6” Fish quad set up that I developed with the guys from Country surfboards. It’s kinda refreshing to try other types of boards and other than high-performance boards. Don’t get me wrong I love high-performance boards but I like that part of surfing that is truly unique and fun– whether it’s a carve, barrel, or that little special turn and my killer fish has been killer for anything under 5ft.
Due to the climate in Portugal, exostosis is pretty common among Portuguese surfers. It’s warm enough to surf without a hood but still cold enough for your ears to grow extra bone. How are your ears doing?
Portugal is exposed to the cold Northern winds compared to other Western countries in Europe. Literally all the time and the northern winds are never warm. My right ear is 95% closed and my left ear is 70% closed. So it is what it is. Now, I’ve been wearing a hoodie and plugs when it is really windy and cold. It is one thing that surfers in Portugal need to be aware of and need to take care of.
What do you like to do when there is no surf?
I love a good BBQ with the boys! Oh man, I love cooking! It is something that in combination with traveling you get so many different inspirations and appreciations from different cultures. I mean who doesn’t like a big feast.
Euro Slayer, Miguel’s most recent edit filmed during last winter in Portugal: