“The streak of terror started when I broke my ankle surfing some shitty beachbreak when I lived in California the beginning of January 2016,” says Ocean City, MD, native Brad Flora. “Four months later, when I was healed up, I took a trip home to try and get one of the last winter swells — but I ended up hyperextending my big toe , snapping it in half, and tearing some ligaments. The surgery seemed iffy so I didn’t get it done, but that had me out for six months. In that timeframe, when my toe was nearly healed, I was messing around on a skateboard going crazy from being out of the water for so long, and I ended up hanging up in the deep end of the bowl that we were skating and broke both of my arms. I wouldn’t exactly say my shit was so hot in 2016.
“When I could finally surf again in October 2016, I was wearing a brace on both arms and had my toe all padded and taped up. Throughout the month of October, I shed the braces and tape in the process of packing up my life in California to move back to the East Coast — and within the process of that I was telling one of my best friends (and talented filmmaker) Blake Michel that I was healed and we should go to Portugal. It was November 1st, the day after Halloween, we were hungover with the truck all packed up, I had scrapped up enough money to get Blake in on Portugal, and we were set for the dreaded drive cross country with four days to get home and then make it to the airport in Philly. We made it in 43 hours with no sleep, but it sucked. We got to Ocean City, got drunk, got lucky with a swell on the day that we left, surfed that morning, and then drove to the airport. When we got to Portugal I was tripping — that is after I almost killed us in my first hectic five-lane roundabout fresh out of the airport. Beautiful.
“We stayed at Hostel 55, where the owners of the joint are classic — they run a really rad gig over there in Ericeira. We did get somewhat skunked with the weather conditions for the 18 days we went, though. It rained, hailed, and the wind howled at least half the time we were there — like a victory at sea type of deal. But it didn’t really bother me. There’s a lot of other cool shit to do in Portugal, like drink a bunch at the bar or hostel and get real weird (hey Blake). Other than wind, we had to deal with super tides from the supermoon, which was tricky while trying to find slabs. A lot of waves were either just fully eating the rock, almost doing it on the super low, and the super high would flood the whole beach. We did get some really fun sessions between storms, though, including a session at The Cave. That wave is the sketchiest mutant thing ever — it breaks over no water with a ledge of gnarly rock literally feet from you. It was a dreary, rainy, windy day, with every wave eating the reef. It didn’t look makeable. But I always wanted to see if I could nab one out there and no one was out so I cracked a beer to calm the nerves and trudged down the cliff. Obrigado Portugal! Here are some clips.” (Now somebody please go sponsor Mr. Flora.)