Stab Magazine | The Nazaré Challenge Thrills And Natxo Gonzalez Wins*

The Nazaré Challenge Thrills And Natxo Gonzalez Wins*

*But Twiggy Baker actually won…

style // Nov 17, 2018
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The 2018 Nazaré Challenge In Loving Memory of the In Loving Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational could have gone poorly.

With a bigger swell forecasted — and very much hyped – for Sunday, it wouldn’t have been the best look if today wasn’t large. In case you don’t recall, last year’s Nazarré event was very Medium Wave World Tour. So MWWT, in fact, that Lucas Chianca was doing floaters and turns when he won.

Well, today, Lucas Chianca was still doing turns but that’s only because he’s a sick fuck. It was solid out there. And barreling. And had everything you’d want to see in a big wave contest.

The day kicked off with some big drops, a few sets exploding on everyone’s heads and an elite step-off bodysurf by New York’s own Whitewater Will Skudin.

A fine way to start.

Throughout the morning, the Facebook Live broadcast numbers ticked higher than some of the CT events — potentially a case for a mainstream audience being more turned on by 20-foot waves than 6.71s for three turns. (See Eddie Rothman’s Wing Ding On A Dang Dang thesis for further reading.)

Part of that was probably due to the fact that there weren’t too many long lulls. It was somewhat rare for a competitor to catch less than three waves in a heat, which is impressive for typical molasses pace of big wave events.

The bigger part of that was due to the surfing.

Boundaries were pushed today — but not the typical Nazare boundaries. Not the type of boundaries that anybody at Guinness would care about. Actual wave riding boundaries were pushed. It was less about being in the right place at the right time and more about surfing a wave well.

Well-surfed waves peaked with Natxo Gonzalez’s barrel.

To put it into perspective, the judges gave Lucas Chianca a 9.60 for a tube in the heat before this. (Watch Semifinal 1 on Heat Analyzer) That score was warranted. Or at least it seemed that way at the time.

Then Natxo’s went and fucked their entire scale.

It earned the young Basque fella a ticket to the final, where he eventually lost to Grant Baker and his beautiful surfing on two big waves.

It was deserved win for Twiggy but, let’s be honest, Natxo’s wave is what will be remembered from this event. A big congrats to both of them, and to everyone who surfed or had a set explode on them or step-off bodysurfed a wave.

Meanwhile, the weekend’s swell still looks menacing. There will be Jet Skis and ropes and hypothetical measuring sticks and Guinness fame. Being good at surfing will no longer matter and all will be back to normal at Nazaré. 

2018/2019 Nazaré Challenge Final Results:
1 – Grant Baker (ZAF) 25.04
2 – Lucas Chianca (BRA) 23.31
3 – Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 22.71
4 – Alex Botelho (PRT) 22.06
5 – Joao De Macedo (PRT) 20.87
6 – Russell Bierke (AUS) 18.89

2018/2019 Nazaré Challenge Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Lucas Chianca (BRA) 25.63, João De Macedo (PRT) 25.40, Russell Bierke (AUS) 21.47, Nathan Florence (HAW) 20.76, Billy Kemper (HAW) 18.23, Ian Walsh (HAW) 18.00
SF 2: Alex Botelho (PRT) 26.33, Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 26.03, Grant Baker (ZAF) 21.60, Kai Lenny (HAW) 20.33, Nick Lamb (USA) 14.00, Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 2.50

2018/2019 Nazaré Challenge Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Lucas Chianca (BRA) 22.31, Billy Kemper (HAW) 17.23, Nathan Florence (HAW) 16.91, Francisco Porcella (ITA) 14.63, Greg Long (USA) 13.77, Antonia Silva (PRT) 8.36
Heat 2: Ian Walsh (HAW) 24.34, Russell Bierke (AUS) 14.86, João De Macedo (PRT) 13.84, Tom Lowe (GBR) 12.16, Rodrigo Koxa (BRA) 9.36, Will Skudin (USA) 3.80
Heat 3: Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 19.57, Kai Lenny (HAW) 16.83, Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 16.26, Jojo Roper (USA) 14.71, Pedro Calado (BRA) 14.20, Andrew Cotton (GBR) 13.73
Heat 4: Alex Botelho (PRT) 20.37, Nic Lamb (USA) 19.43, Grant Baker (ZAF) 18.13, Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 15.33, João Guedes (PRT) 10.16, Nic von Rupp (PRT) 9.70


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Stab Surfer of the Year: The Stab Premium Vote

Day Ten: You voted, we counted.

Feb 1, 2023

Red Bulls, Crypto Bears, Former’s Six-Figure Fish, Tyler’s Multi-Millions And More

A brief catalog of the latest surf industry news and whispers.

Jan 31, 2023


“Definitely The First Time I’ve Gone Surfing Via Plane”

Parker Coffin, Harrison Roach, and friends tear through NZ on Roark's most well-rounded surf trip…

Jan 30, 2023

Pipe Preview: This Year Feels Different

With John and Gabs healthy — and the arrival of the femme next-gen — here’s…

Jan 29, 2023

WSL Tells Competitors: ‘You Better Like Them Apples’

Will mandating competitors to wear Apple Watches make the 2023 tour more or less engaging?

Jan 29, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: John John Florence, Italo Ferreira, Balaram Stack, Rolo Montes, and Shaun Manners

Day 9: "You can't do better than his year last year." - John John Florence

Jan 28, 2023

Full Moon Surfs, Impassable Puddles, And A Few Nights Spent Sleeping In A WSL Commentary Booth

A reader-submitted collection of nonconformist surf stories.

Jan 27, 2023

Kael Walsh Now Owns A Bitcoin, And Watched One Crypto Video

He’s officially your Stab Edit Of The Year champion.

Jan 27, 2023

Carissa Moore And Finn McGill Are Your 2023 Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Champions 

They both pocket $50k and tickets to this year’s Vans Pipe Masters.

Jan 27, 2023


The Pick-Up, Presented By Vans, Episode 5

Mason Ho helps us ring in our final week on the North Shore.

Jan 27, 2023

Goofyfoot Brazilian World Champion Stars In Stab’s Biggest Board-Testing Franchise

Can you guess who?

Jan 26, 2023

Surf Community Rallies To Raise Funds For Eddie Winner And On-Duty Hawaiian Lifeguard Luke Shepardson

Because it's the right thing to do, of course.

Jan 26, 2023

Interview: Caity Simmers On Machete Wars, Rihanna, Personal Project Problems, And The Rise Of Female Surf Content. 

A toast to ‘Toasted.’

Jan 25, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: Creed McTaggart, Albee Layer, Laura Enever, Dane Guduaskas, and Selema Masekela

Day 8: "65 years young and charging just as hard as ever at Pipe, Backdoor,…

Jan 25, 2023

“I’m Not A Big Wave Guy”

How Kai Paula accidentally made his mark at Jaws three weeks after surfing it for…

Jan 24, 2023

Everyone Went.

A toes in the sand, phone in the lagoon account of the 10th Eddie Aikau…

Jan 24, 2023

Breaking: Another CT Rookie Injured Before First Event

Sophie McCulloch pulls out of Pipeline due to Snapper Rocks snafu.

Jan 23, 2023


Watch: ‘Toasted,’ By Caity Simmers

Your favorite surfer directs, edits, and stars in her first feature film. 

Jan 23, 2023