About us

We have been surfing big waves as a team since December 2017, when we began defying together the formidable waves that hit the Nazaré Canyon throughout the Portuguese winter.

Season after season, we have honed our surfing and jet ski driving skills in Praia do Norte’s unforgiving surf. We have also been exploring lesser-known big waves along the Portuguese and Spanish coast. 

In 2021 we strengthened our four-year old partnership by creating the not-for-profit Red Herrings organisation with the support of Smile Wave Fund, a Swiss philanthropic organisation.
The Red Herrings bring a refreshing approach to big wave surfing, a team sport that is paradoxically dominated by a few larger-than-life personalities and, in some cases, outsized egos.

We work towards the success of the whole team, rather than that of specific individuals, and through our activity, also seek to address certain social and environmental issues that are close to our hearts.  
Team Photo

Our story – An unlikely partnership

by Francisco
Could I - an average amateur surfer - have envisioned teaming-up at forty-two with a talented big wave specialist half my age to tackle the world’s heaviest waves breaking at Nazaré in Portugal?

I certainly didn't...

...until Lourenço and I found ourselves crawling together up the beach at Praia do Norte, both gasping for air and totally exhausted.

We first met in December 2017, when we took part in a surf session planned by Jet Resgate, a local big wave surfing and safety organisation. After towing me into a couple of serious waves, Lourenço handed me over to a fellow pilot so that he could try to paddle into a bomb. 

Sadly, my new pilot missed his first rescue, leaving me on the receiving end of the largest set of the day. After experiencing the most agonising minutes of my life, I eventually wound up on the beach where I also found Lourenço. 

We later figured out that everybody involved in that session quickly mobilised to rescue me, the unprepared, inexperienced beginner.

Lourenço, who was meanwhile surprised by the same set, was thus left to fend for himself while his ten-foot-long surfboard dragged him towards the rocks.

We both survived to tell the story. But to this day, Lourenço keeps teasing me, never missing an occasion to remind everyone that I caused all his troubles on that fateful session. 

Luckily, there were no hard feelings.

On the contrary, this shared experience bred a fruitful and enduring partnership that, four years later, led us to create the Red Herrings.
Team photo 2

Our team

Francisco Roque de Pinho
Co-founder, team rider, and jet ski pilot

I grew up on the shores of Lake Geneva and, with a professional career spanning Geneva and London, I spent the first forty-two years of my life landlocked. I was not meant to surf big waves.

But after moving to Portugal in 2017 I took part in a big wave safety course in Nazaré, simply out of curiosity. The skills I learned there, combined with those I had acquired practicing other board sports, such as regular surfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, and kitesurfing, encouraged me to tackle my first big waves at Praia do Norte. 

A couple of brutal hold-downs made me quickly realise that I should not take this sport lightly. I soon teamed up with Lourenço and threw myself into a punishing training programme. Since then, I haven’t looked back, striving every season to make the most of the winter swells that hammer Portugal and the north of Spain. 

When I am not surfing big waves, I spend quality time with my wife Margarida and our three children, Martim, Matilde and Maria, and lead TLG Management Partners, an asset management company that I co-founded.

A Portuguese and Swiss national, I speak fluent Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish.

Lourenço Katzenstein
Co-founder, team rider, and jet ski pilot

The son of one of Portugal’s surfing pioneers, I grew up in Ericeira, Europe’s undisputed surfing Mecca. I have dedicated my life to surfing since I caught my first waves at four.

Unlike most of my peers, I was quickly drawn to surfing large, heavy waves in shallow waters. But taming giant swells became a real ambition after I watched SOLID, an iconic surf movie depicting an historical XXL session at Teahupoo, in Tahiti.  

I had to make many personal sacrifices to afford a jet ski and train to become a proficient big wave surfer and jet ski pilot. I have been surfing Nazaré for six straight seasons and, as a result, have secured several nominations to the Portuguese Big Waves Awards (winning the 2017/2018 Rookie of the Year and the 2018/2019 Biggest Wave awards) and to the WSL Big Wave Awards (2019 XXL Biggest Wave, 2019 Ride of the Year, and 2020 Paddle awards). I have my sights now firmly set on securing with our team an invitation to the elite WSL Nazaré Tow Challenge. 

When I am not surfing big waves, I spend quality time with my girlfriend (and spotter) Ana and my family, and manage Semente Surf School, which I co-founded with our spotter Miguel Portela Urrichio.

A Portuguese and German national, I speak fluent Portuguese, English, and Spanish.

Murilo Voznak
Team rider, jet ski pilot

I make a living from financial trading but truly live for the ocean.

Born and raised in Santo André, a Brazilian city near São Paulo, I moved to Portugal in 2017 with my wife Natalia. After spending several years preparing physically and mentally to surf bigger waves, I have been a regular at Nazaré in the past two winter seasons and shared many good sessions with Francisco and Lourenço. 

We all experience big wave surfing differently. It is for me a transcendental experience that brings me closer to God and helps me appreciate the majesty of life. Sharing this experience with the Red Herrings makes it even better!

A Brazilian national, I speak fluent Portuguese and English.

Miguel Portela Urrichio

I am a surfer from Santa Cruz, home to some of Portugal’s best and least crowded surf spots. A few years after obtaining my degree in Tourism, I challenged Lourenço to relaunch Semente Surf School, one of the country’s first surf schools, which we now run together.

In the off season, I am one of the Red Herrings two spotters. My role consists in giving our jet ski pilots precise radio instructions so they can tow our surfers into the best possible waves and navigate safely the threatening inside at Praia do Norte.

When I am not teaching surfing or spotting for the Red Herrings, I enjoy quality time with my wife Jackie and our three children Teresa, Nick and Constança. 

A Portuguese national, I speak fluent Portuguese and English.

Ana Lourenço

A psychology student, I am currently undertaking a master’s degree at Universidade de Lisboa.

Surfing became my calling soon after I caught my first waves in Santa Cruz in 2015. Since then, I have been working my way up to surfing more demanding waves. After meeting Lourenço, I became involved in big wave surfing, an extreme version of my favourite sport.

As one of the Red Herring’s two spotters, I am responsible for giving our jet ski pilots precise radio instructions so they can tow our surfers into the best possible waves and navigate safely the threatening inside at Praia do Norte. I feel my psychology training prepared me well to handle such a demanding, high-pressure role.

When I am not studying or spotting for the Red Herrings, I spend quality time with Lourenço and my family and, supporting Semente Surf School. 

A Portuguese national, I speak fluent Portuguese and English.

Francisco Borges de Carvalho
Jet ski support/legal counsel

I'd like to believe that Francisco and Lourenço challenged me to join the Red Herrings because I love the ocean. But realistically, I know they did for my legal background...

I have always been very comfortable at sea, whether driving my 300 hp motorboat along the Portuguese coast or catching waves with my waveski. The latter, which I took up fifteen years ago, is a different but amazing way to surf that has led me to compete in several contests, including the World Waveski Surfing event in Pantin. 

I have been supporting Francisco and Lourenço for some time now, driving their back-up ski but also helping them navigate the legal intricacies related to setting-up and managing an organisation such as the Red Herrings. 

When I am not surfing or driving a jet ski, I spend quality time (often in the ocean, too) with my wife Mariana and our three children, Mariana, Francisca e Antonio, and working at PACC.V, a Lisbon-based law firm which I co-founded.  

A Portuguese national, I speak fluent Portuguese, English, and Spanish.

Frederico Roquette
Communications and E&S projects 

I am a surfer from Praia Grande, a breeding ground for Portuguese big wave surfers. But I am by no means an XXL surfer: I feel perfectly happy surfing overhead waves, admiring the ocean and appreciating the many challenges that it throws at us.

I am convinced I inherited my love for the ocean from previous generations in my family. My great-grandfather was a sailor and fisherman who drowned while attempting to save a family from a flood. My great-uncle was a sailor at the Paris Olympics in 1924. My grandfather was a fisherman and a passionate sailor. And my uncle/godfather took me sailing and fishing in his trawler at a very early age. We all have seawater cursing through our veins and share the same name, Frederico Guilherme.

I first started bodyboarding at Praia Grande where I developed a taste for hollow and tubular waves and became national champion at sixteen. I tried my hand at surfing after winning a longboard at a contest. I was immediately hooked and started competing within a year. But longboarding held me back from enjoying the hollow waves I liked, so I transitioned to shortboarding.  

I enjoy most the calm, focus and peace of mind that surfing brings, especially at these times when we all need to take better care of our mental health. I particularly relish opportunities to surf tropical uncrowded surf spots, preferably in the company of my children and close friends.

A marketing professional, I helped Francisco and Lourenço imagine their organisation’s name and logo. I continue advising them on their team’s communications and spearhead their environmental and social initiatives. 

When I am not surfing, I spend quality time with my wife Patricia and my three children, Frederico, Francisca and Assunção (all keen surfers) and managing 9, the Lisbon-based creative agency I co-founded in 1999.  

A Portuguese national, I speak fluent Portuguese, English, Spanish, and French.

Mathieu Pelikan
Water photographer, cameraman, filmmaker

Born in the French countryside, I started enjoying water-based board sports such as surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing from a very early age.

Over time, I felt increasingly compelled to capture and share images of the days I spent in the water and soon became passionate about water photography. 

When I moved to Portugal in 2010, I met Nuno Cardoso who introduced me to his Wave Solution Housings. With proper equipment in hand, I started evolving as a water photographer, travelling, meeting, and working with fellow watermen. 

I will always remember October 29th, 2020 as a turning point in my career. Francisco, who was recovering from an injury (and maybe a little scared?), offered to take me on the back of his jet ski to photograph the largest swell ever surfed at Praia do Norte in Nazaré. As the only photographer shooting from the water, I was able to capture unique angles of these mountains of water and the surfers who charged them, and eventually produced images that were later published by Red Bull. Some of my best pictures of that day are displayed on this website. 

Soon thereafter, I started joining the Red Herrings in their expeditions along the Portuguese and Spanish coasts. And as they say, “the rest is history…”

When I am not in the water, I spend quality time with my wife Carlota and my children Jeanne and Layla, and manage Siam Experience, my own business importing e-bikes, kitesurfing and windsurfing equipment and running e-bike tours in Sintra, Portugal.

A French national, I speak fluent English, Portuguese, and German.

Vasco Santos
Surfer, drone pilot, cameraman, filmmaker

I am an all-round waterman from Lisbon who, for many years, has been assiduously pursuing all sort of water-based board sports including surfing, kitesurfing, SUP, and foiling. I focused most of my efforts on kitesurfing though, placing 9th on the 2015 Kite World Tour and becoming Portugal’s 2017 Vice-champion.

Over the past four years, I have focused on evolving across most foiling disciplines, namely surf-foiling, big wave surf-foiling, wing-foiling, and kite-foiling. I also spend a good amount of time teaching advanced surf-foilers.

I am very excited about having joined the Red Herrings, whom I met and with whom I shared several big waves sessions in the 2020/21 winter season. I look forward to helping them evolve as foilers and produce outstanding images in the coming seasons. 

When I am not in the water, I spend time improving my skills flying all sorts of drones, managing my video production company, and reviewing motorcycles as a host of a TV show.

A Portuguese national, I speak fluent English and Spanish. 

Tomás Katzenstein
Land-based cameraman, filmmaker

I am Lourenço’s younger brother and I am currently undertaking an audio-visual degree at EPCI from where I hope to graduate in 2021.

I spent the 2020/21 season following Francisco and Lourenço closely, filming their training sessions and lifestyle. Fortunately for them, I am easily distracted (!) and missed a massive wave landing on their jet ski when Francisco sloppily rescued Lourenco in their last session at Praia do Norte. Which, quite frankly, is a shame because that footage could have gone viral!

I look forward to continuing this adventure with the Red Herrings, filming their every step, hopefully travelling to more exotic places, and evolving as a team. 

When I am not filming the Red Herrings, I am either bodyboarding in the challenging reef breaks of Ericeira, studying, or spending time with my family and friends.

A Portuguese and German national, I speak fluent Portuguese and English.

Our partners

We would love to hear from you 

Do you have questions or feedback for our team? Would you like to test your equipment in one of the world’s harshest marine environments, experience Nazaré in capable hands, or suggest environmental and social causes we should be aware of? Or should we simply include you in our distribution list so you can receive regular updates on our activities? 

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