Lucas Chianca: the Brazilian put on a stellar performance with plenty of innovative big wave surfing maneuvering | Photo: WSL

Lucas Chianca has taken out the 2023 Nazaré Big Wave Challenge at Praia do Norte in Portugal.

The day started with 25-foot waves and wrapped up with 35-foot-plus waves - not the biggest Nazaré can deliver, but with plenty of walls to work on.

Swell picked up gradually throughout the day, with consistent, clean sets marching toward the Nazaré shoreline.

At noon, there were no long lulls and no shortage of waves - just perfectly defined peaks and slightly bumpy water surface.

Nine teams of two competitors surfed two 40-minute heats, with each team member alternating between surfing and driving the team's jet ski. 

Each surfer keeps their best two scoring rides, and the highest number counts double, meaning a surfer's highest possible total score is 30 points.

It was a hectic first heat, with all surfers getting nearly all the good waves on offer and making judges' work difficult.

Michelle des Bouillons put on a superb show and suffered an eye-striking wipeout, but they were OK to keep going.

Von Rupp also had his share of heaven and hell, but the standout athlete was clearly Clement Roseyro.

Maya Gabeira: the experienced Brazilian went left and right at Praia do Norte | Photo: WSL

A Busy Lineup

Up above on the fort, with a privileged view over the Atlantic Ocean., wave spotters were busy sharing the coordinates for the best incoming gems.

Down below, three jet skis (plus three backup, rescue personal watercraft) drawing white lines on the big wave surfing arena.

A lot of innovation and aggressiveness was put into each ride, with 360s and back loops slowly becoming standard maneuvers.

The second heat saw Lucas Chianca and Pedro Scooby smashing the opponents with a stellar performance that even included a 720 rotation attempt.

The event quickly progressed to the second decisive round, with thousands of spectators watching from the nearby cliffs.

In their second session, Von Rupp and Roseyro were able to climb to first place on the leaderboard.

But only for half an hour. Despite chasing the scores for 30 minutes, Chianca and Scooby were able to reconquer the most coveted position.

Lucas even found time to put out a layback turn on a 35-foot-plus wave face.

Almost simultaneously, João de Macedo suffered the worst wipeout of the event after falling off his board while descending an above-average height wave.

The last session of the Nazaré Big Wave Challenge saw the swell pumping a few XXL bombs in the dying minutes, proving that Praia do Norte is currently the place to live and train for surfing's most extreme discipline.

"This is a dream for me. I never expected to win so many times here," Chianca said.

"This place is magical; Nazaré has given me everything in my life. This win is probably the most special to me because we were a 100 percent Brazilian team."

"It was such a pleasure to tow with Scooby, one of the guys who pushed me, helped me, and inspired me when I started surfing big waves."

Chianca is now a five-time winner in Nazaré - four times towing and once paddling a few years back.

Lucas and Pedro Scooby also ended up taking the team's best performance award. No other team could quite match the Brazilian duo's flair.

"I can't believe two days ago I was super sick on my couch in Rio De Janeiro," Scooby said.

"My mom took care of me, and Lucas encouraged me, and I decided to come. I put all my energy into this, and our team worked really well to take the win."

"Lucas is so talented. We've been surfing since his first big swells, and we talk a lot about everything. We have a great connection, so to win with him today is super special."

Brazil's Maya Gabeira successfully defended her title at Nazaré, a break she has dedicated most of her life to.

Gabeira teamed up with local rising star Antonio Laureano and used the first session to fine-tune their strategy. 

"We realized that the judges were rewarding turns because the size is not that big, so we have to look for those smoother walls in our second session," Gabeira reflected.

"I've been injured for what seems like forever now, so it was great to compete again, and to get the win is a great way to come back."

"Teaming up with Tony, the youngest one, was special. Even after getting injured, he continued to drive me, stayed focused, and drove me into the waves I needed."

2024 Nazaré Big Wave Challenge | Results

Men's Best Performance: Pedro Scooby (BRA)
Women's Best Performance: Maya Gabeira (BRA)
Most Committed Award: T.B.A.
Best Team Performance: Pedro Scooby (BRA) / Lucas Chianca (BRA)

Team Leaderboard

1. Pedro Scooby (BRA) / Lucas Chianca (BRA), 41.16
2. Nic von Rupp (POR) / Clement Roseyro (FRA), 37.81
3. Rodrigo Koxa (BRA) / Vitor Faria (BRA), 35.79
4. Pierre Rollet (FRA) / Rafael Tapia (CHI), 34.63
5. Eric Rebiere (FRA) / Sebastian Steudtner (GER), 33.81
6. Andrew Cotton (GBR) / Will Skudin (USA), 27.22
7. Michelle des Bouillons (BRA) / Ian Cosenza (BRA), 20.36
8. Maya Gabeira (BRA) / Antonio Laureano (POR), 17.27
9. João De Macedo (POR) / Antonio Silva (POR), 15.60

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