US surfer escapes terrifying wipe out in series of giant waves off Nazaré

A big wave surfer had a lucky escape after being beaten by a series of giant waves off Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal.

Footage shows professional big wave surfer Toby Cunningham falling off his surfboard after successfully riding a huge wave during one of the biggest swells of the season on February 7.

His teammate, Glyn Ovens, appears on a jet ski to take Cunningham to safety, however, another wave rolls in and impedes the surfer's attempts to reach the jet ski, engulfing him in the roiling surf.

Cunningham then resurfaces as Ovens approaches him to attempt another rescue. At that point, Cunningham sees another huge wave rolling in and signals Ovens to abort the mission.

Cunningham manages to keep calm under the water as the wave breaks followed by two others.

After five waves pounding, the rescue team manages to reach Cunningham and take him safely to the beach.

The filmer commented: ''The moments that followed the first wave were of great stress but Toby managed to stay calm.''

Toby Cunningham, 41, is a professional surfer from Coronado, California, with 25 years of experience surfing big waves.

He started surfing big waves when he was just 16 and won the XXL Biggest Paddle Award for paddling a 56ft wave in 2003.

In the past 5 years, Cunningham has been spending winters in Nazaré. He says: ''Here in Nazaré it makes everything I've ever surfed in the past feel small. Getting a beat down in Nazaré can be an incredibly fun experience or a daunting experience.

''It all depends on your mindset. I choose to enjoy doing out of control flips underwater where it is pitch black and incredibly loud. I absolutely love that I have no control over what is happening to me underwater and letting the ocean do whatever it pleases.''

Praia do Norte, near the fishing village of Nazaré, is renowned for its powerful and dangerous waves and attracts surfers from around the world.