Chop Hops Into Barrels At Nazaré Are Now An Occurrence
There were zero 100-foot waves at today’s Tow Challenge, but it was still a fun watch.
Prior to today, the most recent scene we observed in a WSL live broadcast from Nazaré was that of a lifeless body.
It was February 2020, and at the end of a long and fascinating day of ropes, straps, dominatrix waves, a jet ski accident left Alex Botelho unconscious. After showing the rescue crew pull his body from the water, the broadcast was cut, and it was hours before any official statements were made. The incident was comparable to Mick Fanning’s on-air shark attack at J-Bay — except, at least we knew Mick was still alive.
Fortunately, after 15 days in the hospital, Alex survived and is back to surfing at a high level.
Fortunately, once more, Nazaré would hand us no near-death experiences at the 2021 Tow Surfing Challenge today.
It was a gorgeous day in Portugal, the sunshine a welcome shift away from the fog, which canceled the event yesterday. The waves weren’t quite as big as folks anticipated. They were said to be 20 – 30 feet — a far cry from the 100-foot mark that makes for one hell of a TV show title. The focus shifted to surfing the wave instead of surviving it, as the new adage goes.
Nine tow teams surfed two heats each, with a handful of awards and prize money up for grabs. The teams were as follows:
Team 1: Kai Lenny (HAW), Lucas Chianca (BRA)
Team 2: Nic Von Rupp (PRT), Pedro Scooby (BRA)
Team 3: Rodrigo Koxa (BRA), Kealii Mamala (HAW)
Team 4: Andrew Cotton (GBR), Will Skudin (USA)
Team 5: Axier Muniain (EUK), Francisco Porcella (ITA)
Team 6: João de Macedo (PRT), Antonio Silva (PRT)
Team 7: Maya Gabeira (BRA), Eric Rebiere (FRA)
Team 8: Justine Dupont (FRA), Pierre Rollet (FRA)
Team 9: Michelle des Bouillons (BRA), Ian Cosenza (PRT)
Good mix, yeah?
Other than the grim reaper’s absence and the waves being smaller and cleaner, there were a lot of repeats from the 2020 event. Justine Dupont continued to put her un-touch-ability on display, winning the event once more. Kai Lenny and Lucas Chianca were the team to beat going into it and, alas, they went unbeaten — though Nic Von Rupp and Pedro Scooby came close. Scooby got the day’s highest single-wave score for a barrel. Shortly thereafter, the webcast caught him in a moment of elation, which was nice.
Also nice was Chumbo’s chop hop/barrel combo.
It’s like a breath of fresh air — or a sunny day after a moist weekend spent living in a fog bank — to see such a creative approach at a location where size so often seems to be the only thing that matters. The Nazzy Tow Challenge seems to bring it out every year.
I, for one, applaud it.
All up, the champs were:
Men’s Best Performance: Pedro Scooby
Women’s Best Performance: Justine Dupont
Best Team Performance: Kai Lenny and Lucas Chianca
Jogos Santa Casa Most Committed Award: Pedro Scooby
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