Lucas Chumbo wins Nazare Challenge
Over the weekend the WSL was again shown just how hard it is to structure a competition around the vagaries of surfing. They appear to have found a technological solution for smaller waves, though their creation still hasn't passed the final test: is the wave pool engaging enough to watch again and again?
For big waves, however, there can be no techno proxy. The only technological fix is forecasting and even that has its limitations: a global comp has to be mobilised at least three days out and micro-climate features such as local winds are nigh on impossible to predict, especially in the mid-latitudes.
A green light is always weighed up against caveats, but between when Mike Parsons pressed it on Wednesday and when the hooter sounded on Saturday the odds shifted. Parsons halted the contest after two heats due to strong winds.
“We saw the wind come up really strong out of the northwest,” said Parsons. “The conditions were way too dangerous for the surfers. We went on hold to see what the conditions would do, but because we did not see a change, we have decided to pause the competition and look to finish the event tomorrow."
"There will still be solid swell and the forecast projects that there will be lighter winds."
It's a rare swell that plateaus and offers two shots at a big wave comp, and this wasn't one of them. While the winds were indeed lighter the contest ran in subprime conditions. The Big Wave Tour has a sliding scale for scoring and this registered as Bronze, the lowest in the range. Transplanted to an Australian coast it'd be called 10-12 foot and at that size the sloping peak of Naz is a declawed beast.
Of course, it's a contest so size of the waves mean little, victory everything. And the victor by chance or otherwise was one of the best big wave performers of the last two seasons, Lucas 'Chumbo' Chianca.
Chumbo hotdogging in the final (WSL/Masurel)
“I am stoked to win this event,” said Chumbo. “Thank you to everyone for all of their support. I am grateful to win this event and all these guys competing are so crazy and inspiring. It was hard because when you get the call for BWT events, it is at the last minute. We flew here as soon as we got the call, were a bit tired, and then just went straight into the competition the next day. The waves yesterday were so gnarly and scary. And then today, we were on again. I am super stoked. Thank you.”
Billy Kemper came second to Chumbo, his runner up finish puts him at No.1 on the BWT rankings.
There's still one more contest in the Big Wave Tour season, the Mavericks Challenge which has got until February 28th to run. If it does get the green light before then it will be the first time in the BWT's nine-year history that every scheduled contest has run.
Nazaré Challenge Final Results:
1 - Lucas Chianca (BRA) 19.89
2 - Billy Kemper (HAW) 13.93
3 - Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 13.83
4 - Kai Lenny (HAW) 13.23
5 - Grant Baker (ZAF) 11.04
6 - Nathan Florence (HAW) 10.89
WSL Men’s BWT Rankings Top 5 (following Nazaré Challenge):
1 - Billy Kemper (HAW) 27,140 pts
2 - Kai Lenny (HAW) 24, 829 pts
3 - Ian Walsh (HAW) 17,757 pts
4 - Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 14,123 pts
5 - Lucas Chianca (BRA) 13,331 pts