Reigning World Surf League Big Wave Tour (BWT) Champion Grant Baker battled through three rounds of daunting 20-30 foot waves to finish fifth in the Nazare Challenge at Praia de Norte in Portugal on Sunday.
The third stop on the 2017 / 2018 BWT was won by rising big wave star Lucas Chianca, 22, from Brazil who won all three heats he contested with an amazing repertoire of manoeuvres more commonly seen performed on waves a quarter the size of those on offer at this event.
The second-ever BWT event at Nazaré ran over two days after dangerous conditions threatened the competitors following the opening heats on Saturday.
Big Wave Tour Commissioner Mike Parsons, alongside the judging panel, rated conditions a Bronze coefficient, awarding the winner 10,000 points.
Competing in just his second BWT event, Chianca earned his first finals appearance and event win today after dominating the competitive 24-man field, made up of the world’s best male big wave surfers.
The young Brazilian demonstrated command over Nazaré’s powerful waves and challenging white-water speeds to climb up to No. 5 on the Big Wave Tour rankings.
Baker, 43, a two-time BWT Champion (2013 and 2017) was the oldest competitor in the six-man final which represented a ‘changing of the guard’ in big wave competition by also featured 2017/2018 Puerto Escondido Challenge winner Kai Lenny (HAW), two-time Pe’ahi Challenge winner Billy Kemper (HAW), and up-and-comers Natxo Gonzalez (EUK), Nathan Florence (HAW), and Chianca, all of whom are in the their early twenties.
Lenny kicked off the hour-long final with a low-range score of 3.83 (out of a possible 10). The next wave of the set saw a split peak with Baker picking up 3.50 on the right while le Chianca gained control of the heat with an authoritative 7.33 on the left.
Gonzalez challenged Chianca with two mid-range scores, but the Brazilian consolidated his lead with a 6.73. Kemper stayed patient and was able to collect a 4.83 and 4.67 at the end of the heat to take second place ahead of Gonzalez, Lenny, Baker, and Florence.
The Mavericks Challenge still has the potential to run before the Big Wave Tour season closes on February 28, 2018.
BWT officials will continue to monitor swell systems and weather patterns and will only call the event on when surf reaches the 30-foot-plus mark, mobilizing on 72 hours’ notice.
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
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
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
- Grant Baker (ZAF) 5,694 pts