Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca took home his first ever Big Wave Tour victory at Nazare yesterday. What began as a wild and wooly, enormous Saturday eventually wound up as an 8-10ft finals day.
It was always going to be a gamble, running Nazare on those numbers. But at least on the Saturday there was no shortage of swell and the potential for an event's worth of waves.
Unfortunately, this time the wind forecast ended up being spot on. When dawn broke Saturday morning, the waves were already big and expected to get bigger, but by the time the second heat hit the water, the wind was so bad that guys could barely get into waves, let alone make it down the face.
It was about as scary as the conditions get at surfing’s scariest venue. Probably too dangerous, in fact. Only two Big Wave Tour events had run so far this season, and with the end of the waiting period less than three weeks away, it was beginning to look like it was all sown up.
Sure, two events are enough to crown a world champ, but certainly isn’t ideal. If we are going to have a tour, then it needs to be an actual tour, not a couple of contests. So while it was a tough call to greenlight the event, can’t blame BWT Commissioner Mike Parsons for doing so. They had to at least try.
The highlight reel will show you video of heroic drops from Pete Mel, Lucas Chumbo, and a couple other madmen, but what it won’t show you is that those were basically the only waves ridden on Saturday. It was borderline unsurfable, definitely uncontestable, and Mike Parsons did the right thing when he called the event off for the day. Credit to him for pulling the plug before someone got hurt, or a world title was won and lost without waves being ridden.
Yesterday, conditions had down-sized considerably. A handful of waves in the 25-foot range, but for the most part, it was 12-20ft on the face (double- to triple-overhead)—what most guys in Hawaii and on the Big Wave Tour would call 6-10ft.
Lucas, Billy Kemper, Natxo Gonzalez, Kai Lenny, Twiggy and Nathan Florence were lined up for the final, with Chianca eventually taking the win.
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