Nuno Santos: Meet the violin-playing surfer

Story highlights

  • Nuno is a violin-playing adventurer
  • Created 'Violin in the most unlikely places' challenge

(CNN)Professional Portuguese musician Nuno Santos enjoys playing the violin.

He also enjoys surfing, though finding the time to practice both to a high level can be a challenge.
So he's come up with a highly unusual solution -- to do both simultaneously.
    "Both music and sports have always been a part of my life," Santos tells CNN. "I've been into both since I was five-years-old."
    Santos' "home break" is at Nazaré, 75 miles (122 kilometers) north of Lisbon. Except it's not just any old break.
    Nazaré is a mecca for surfers and where Garrett McNamara claimed a 100-foot ride in 2013, though that feat has not been ratified by Guinness World Records, which still recognizes the American's 78-footer from Praia do Norte in 2011 as its leading mark.

    'Water mountains'

    Nuno's eureka moment to combine his two passions came roughly 10 years ago as he climbed some of South America's highest mountains.
    Wherever he went, his violin went too and it was on these South American peaks that his 'Violin in the most unlikely places' challenge was born.
    He eventually returned to his native Portugal and it was here that Nuno's project went viral.
    "The biggest mountains around here are water mountains," he explains. "But it was very straight forward to play the violin whilst surfing the giant waves of my home break, Nazaré.
    "This is an endeavor that requires the best of me in all levels, hence it's something that helps knowing myself as a person.
    "At the same time, it makes me understand the very fine balance between confidence and humbleness, between effort and patience and it reminds me constantly not to have too many expectations on the outcome, regardless of how much commitment I've put into the process."
    Playing the violin while surfing giant waves may look like Nuno's most difficult challenge yet, but he says scaling mountains has really been his Everest.
    "To summit mountains over 6000m, I need to travel to very far locations and stay around several weeks or months in order to adapt to the altitude, meaning that this type of challenge can become very costly both in terms of time and money," he says.
    "After this, another challenge is preparing myself physically and mentally for it which requires a strict discipline together with a good training methodology to do so. However, this is my favorite part as I can put into practice all the knowledge and experience I have.
    "Big waves are also a big challenge, but because I have them on my backyard everything becomes easier."

    Life project

    Nuno modestly describes his himself as "reasonably good" at music and sports when he was a 19-year-old. He went on to study sports science at university, eventually earning a PhD and becoming a university lecturer.
    He lost faith in the education system and, subsequently, what he was doing and quickly returned to pursue music professionally.
    Surfing remains a hobby but Nuno has required professional dedication to reach the level he has.
    "Though I haven't had a relevant direct revenue from this effort, the reputation I've gained from it helped to relaunch myself as a musician," he explains.
    So, what next for the violin-playing, big wave-surfing, mountain-climbing adventurer?
    "My life project for the next few years is to play the violin on the summit of the highest mountains of the seven continents, and surfing the biggest waves of the seven seas.
    "Easier said than done, although I know I'll get there eventually.
    "But space is the limit!"