Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca Wins WSL Big (Medium) Wave Challenge At Nazare
Ever seen someone do a floater on a 10′ gun?
Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca strokes into a grumpy 8-foot wave, sluggishly hooks it up the face, does an undersized turn on an oversized board, drops a layback, and milks it all the way to the beach.
This is how the 2018 WSL Big Wave Tour Nazare Challenge was won.
The event was Green Lit in expectation of very big waves yesterday. And it did run in pretty big waves yesterday — for a total of two heats.
Then, with a rising swell and bad winds, it was deemed too risky to push on. So they pulled the plug and hoped this morning would be better.
It was not.
Former Big Wave Tour Commish, Peter Mel, sending it in Round 1 heat 2, which saw the only true XXL conditions of the event.
Unless your idea of better is 8-foot grumpy waves.
So, there was a bit of a predicament this morning. What to do? Call it off and split the points and prize money? That sounded dull.
People came here from all over the world. Might as well wax up the ol’ guns and see what happens.
Someone’s gotta win, right?
Lucas was that person today.
Big, bumpy, and beyond uninviting.
While the first two rounds saw a few moments of big, wide-open brilliance, the spectacle would be short-lived, only two rounds running before conditions went south.
And it’s worth mentioning, Lucas could have easily been that person if it was 25-foot and perfect.
Chumbo’s had himself a hell of a year, making noise every swell, even wrangling the wave of the day at wildly oversized Mavericks a month or two ago.
But today was anyone’s game.
The problem with big wave contests is that they are often wave catching contests. Lucas found himself in the right place at the right time, he surfed with more spark than anyone. It looked like someone gave Italo Ferreira a 10’0”.
I mean, he did a fucking floater.
When the event was greenlit four days ago, the press release mentioned “dangerous whitewater speeds.” Which was funny.
It also mentioned the high probability of sour winds. Which was strange. Sure, there was a hell of a swell lining up with Nazare. But considering the winds, that green light had a curious glow to it.
Nathan Florence fresh from Hawaii and familiarizing himself with thick neoprene and and impact vest.
Ian Walsh and the boys hanging cliffside, trying to make sense of the massive lumps of water pinballing across the half-mile-wide lineup in front of them.
Making a point to blast over from the Basque Country whenever it turns on, Natxo Gonzalez (left) has spent many a morning developing his theories about the fabled Atlantic beachbreak.
The writing was on the wall in terms of the forecast. What did they think was going to happen?
Well, it should be noted that the BWT season ends on February 28th, so you can understand why they’d want to squeeze another event into World Title tally. The BWWTour operates with a system that enjoys incredibly long waiting periods and employs a strange qualification and points structure.
Complicated and arcane. Like big wave surfing.
So, you can chalk this one up as a ‘W’ for Lucas and something of an ‘L’ for the WSL. The League is still grappling with how to run big wave events. On one hand, these events should make perfect sense – nothing peaks mainstream interest like a massive wave. When the Eddie ran two years ago, it smashed viewership records, drawing 1.2 million eyeballs to the live stream.
The AM scene on Day 1.
Certain death on the cliffs below.
Praia Grande’s finest, Joao De Macedo came out of his early Round heat with a hell of a shiner, but nothing that won’t add to the Portuguese goofyfoots’ good looks.
But attaining consistent success running these events continues to prove borderline impossible, dealing with an unpredictable ocean in a situation where conditions are what matter most, and even in the best case scenarios, fans endure 25-minute, trivia and surfy small talk-filled lulls. Not exactly ideal for live streaming to a broad audience.
At the end of the day, it’s insanely difficult to strike the balance between trying to kill a person on live TV (Red Bull Cape Fear), trying to create a legitimate World Big Wave World Tour, and trying to authoritatively decide the world’s best surfer in heavy waves.
But the WSL is making large—or, at least medium—steps towards figuring it all out. And for that, we tip our cap.
Despite falling just shy of the win to Lucas Chumbo (right), Maui’s Billy Kemper’s runner-up finish pushes the Hawaiian to #1 on the BWW Tour rankings.
A “how to” on big wave board transport.
There won’t be many cheater 5’s thrown down on this longboard.
The top 3 from left to right, Billy Kemper, Lucas Chianca, Natxo Gonzalez.
Nazaré Challenge Final Results:
1 – Lucas Chianca (BRA) 21.39
2 – Billy Kemper (HAW) 14.33
3 – Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 13.83
4 – Kai Lenny (HAW) 13.23
5 – Grant Baker (ZAF) 12.23 6 – Nathan Florence (HAW) 10.89
Nazaré Challenge Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Lucas Chianca (BRA) 14.91, Billy Kemper (HAW) 13.17, Nathan Florence (HAW) 13.13, Alex Botelho (PRT) 12.31, Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 11.93, Peter Mel (USA) 11.63
SF 2: Kai Lenny (HAW) 18.70, Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 17.69, Grant Baker (ZAF) 16.99, Nic von Rupp (PRT) 11.43, Ian Walsh (HAW) 11.04, Tom Lowe (GBR) 10.51
Nazaré Challenge Round One Results:
Heat 1: Lucas Chianca (BRA) 17.63, Billy Kemper (HAW) 16.33, Nathan Florence (HAW) 14.31, João de Macedo (PRT) 11.56, Hugo Vau (PRT) 9.43, Pedro Calado (BRA) 7.13
Heat 2: Peter Mel (USA) 15.43, Alex Botelho (PRT) 14.23, Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 9.66, Tom Butler (GBR) 3.14, Carlos Burlé (BRA) 0.00, Aaron Gold (HAW) 0.00
Heat 3: Nic von Rupp (PRT) 20.23, Kai Lenny (HAW) 20.23, Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 17.57, Francisco Porcella (ITA) 14.11, Cristian Merello (CHL) 12.77, Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 11.39
Heat 4: Tom Lowe (GBR) 15.10, Grant Baker (ZAF) 13.84, Ian Walsh (HAW) 12.90, Nic Lamb (USA) 11.43, Antonio Silva (PRT) 6.06, Kealii Mamala (HAW) 5.00
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