Chianca, Scooby, and Gabeira Win Nazaré Big Wave Challenge
NAZARÉ, Portugal (Monday, January 22, 2024) - The TUDOR Nazaré Big Wave Challenge unfolded today in 30-to-40 foot waves at Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal. Surfers woke up to a glorious day with light winds and very clean wedges across the various peaks of the Nazaré lineup.
While the bigger sets were a little slow in the morning, forcing competition to go on hold for a couple of hours, the action got underway just after midday as massive crowds assembled on the headland and around the iconic lighthouse.
A little under five hours later, competition wrapped in fantastic fashion in massive waves and with enthusiastic crowds cheering on the world’s best big wave surfers at the awards ceremony on the headland.
Chianca’s Relentless Approach Wins It All Again
The defending event winner Lucas Chianca (BRA) put on an incredible show all day and could not be denied a second, back-to-back Men’s Best Performance Award in Nazaré. Despite a last-minute partner change due to Kai Lenny pulling out injured, Chianca wasted no time to find his rhythm with fellow Brazilian Pedro Scooby (BRA).
The pair were on point to identify the best waves in the ever-moving lineup and Chianca with his progressive approach to riding the massive peaks scored the event’s best two waves, one in each session. The goofy foot basically surfed these huge waves like they were your typical local beachbreak and laid back into big powerful turns, staying close to the wave’s power source despite the obvious risk factor.
“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% 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. I’m really happy to give him back a little bit with our performance today.”
Chianca is now a five-time winner in Nazaré, four times towing and he also won the event paddling a few years back. The crowd craze was never-ending when the Brazilian stood up proud on the podium in front of thousands of fans chanting his name.
Behind him, Clement Roseyro (FRA) and Sebastian Steudtner (GER) complete the podium in the individual men’s category with really intense rides of their own and a fantastic performance to rival with undeniably the best surfer out at Nazaré for the past few years.
Gabeira Secures Second Title At Nazaré
Brazil’s Maya Gabeira (BRA) 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 (POR), 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 after their first heat.
Michelle des Bouillons (BRA) was right behind her after a busy first session with her tow partner Ian Cosenza (BRA). Despite focusing their efforts on Des Bouillons catching the best waves in the second heat, she couldn’t improve on her scores from the first session.
The energy and swell intensified in the second session and Laureano had one job, and that was to get Gabeira on the best waves. The start was a bit shaky, and Gabeira had to deal with a big wipeout on her first ride. Laureano scooped her up and she took a moment to reset, before swinging for the next set on the third peak. With a decent score on the board, she stayed patient and finally found the smooth gem she was looking for. It stretched out ahead of her as she made a committed cutback before going down the line and riding out safely, getting her best score and the Women’s Best Performance Award.
“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,” Gabeira added. “Teaming up with Tony, the youngest one, was special. Even after getting injured he continued to drive me and stayed focused and drove me into the waves I needed. Today was a very difficult day to surf and especially to perform rail surfing. And to do that under a time pressure is tough, normally in the free surf when you’re tired you rest, here you have to go and you tend to take more risk than you probably should. It’s very difficult but so very rewarding in the end.”
Scooby Eventually Finds His Own Pace, Brings Team to Top of the Podium
For a long time it looked like a first-timer in this event, France’s Clement Roseyro (FRA) teamed up with local Nic Von Rupp (POR), were going to deny the Brazilian number one seed of the team’s award.
But towards the end of the second session, Chianca managed to tow his partner Pedro Scooby (BRA) into a huge ride which changed the situation and moved the pair into the lead with only one more heat left to compete. Eventually no other team could quite match the Brazilian duo’s flair and they took top honors in the Team’s Best Performance Award.
“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 and we have a great connection so to win with him today is super special.”
Much like in the individual category, Roseyro and Von Rupp placed runner-up, and Steudtner and his partner Eric Rebiere (FRA) took the third podium spot.