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Drone captures big wave surf rescue



On February 28, 2017, professional surfer Pedro “Scooby” Vianna wiped out riding a 70-foot wave in Portugal, and his epic rescue was all captured on a custom drone. The drone footage gained media attention from the likes of Red Bull Production, Motherboard and National Geographic. It has amassed over 20 million views when it first released, and now the big wave surf rescue has turned into a short documentary film called The Big Ugly. The drone footage was filmed by Máquina Voadora Produções, and it just won a News and Documentary Award at the 2017 Los Angeles Drone Film Festival. Here is The Big Ugly featured on their YouTube channel:

It all started during a winter surf session in Praia do Norte, Portugal. Accompanied with a rescue crew on jet skis, Vianna surfed in a region that is notorious for having waves as tall as 100 feet. Once he finally caught a wave, Vianna surfed at an estimated 45 mph before the whitewater caused him to lose control. Another surfer on a jet ski immediately pulled up and Vianna held onto the rescue board attached behind the watercraft. Right when they were heading back to dry land, another wave came barreling down, and it sent them speeding and once again losing control. The jet ski capsized, and the waves tossed both rescuer and surfer. Another rescuer with a jet ski pulled Vianna close to shore and went back for the other rescue team member. Everyone made it out alive, and even the lost jet ski was found back on shore.

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About the company

The whole life-threatening incident was captured on a drone. Everything from the crash to the double rescue was filmed by Máquina Voadora Produções. The two-man team out of Cascais, Portugal, consists of Daniel Neves and Pedro Miranda. They have filmed for clients such as Red Bull, Yamaha, BBC, Netflix, and National Geographic. They specialize in shooting big wave surf, and they have regularly lost 2-3 drones every season since they started filming back in 2013 in Nazaré, Portugal.

surf rescue

What drone did they use?

A custom built DJI F450 Naza drone was used to film the rescue, but the team has now switched to a DJI Phantom 4 Pro. The F450 was fitted to capture low angles below the crest of the wave.

surf rescue

Drones were used since they offer unique aerial perspectives. Máquina Voadora Produções has regularly filmed big waves, but nothing compares to the surf rescue captured that winter day.