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Mon, 12 February 2018

Reigning WSL Big Wave Tour Champion Twiggy Baker, 43, battled through three rounds of difficult 20'+ waves to take 5th in the Nazare Challenge at Praia de Norte, Portugal yesterday.


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TWIGGY TAKEOFF: Grant Baker rides a bomb at the Nazare Challenge. Photo WSL / Justes


The third stop on the 2017/2018 BWT was won by rising big wave star Lucas Chianca, 21, from Brazil, who won all three heats he contested with an amazing mix of outrageous moves more suited for small waves. There were aerials, big slashy cutbacks, and off-the-tops. Not bad on a 10 foot board.

The second-ever BWT event at Nazaré ran over two days after dangerous winds and messy surf brought an early close to 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.

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NEW KID: Lucas Chianca surfed in his first final for his first ever win. Photo WSL / Masurel


“I am stoked to win this event,” Chianca said. “Thank you to everyone for all of their support. 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.”

A changing of the guard in big wave surfingBaker, 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 surfing, featuring the last 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 in their early 20s.

Lenny kicked off the hour-long final with a low-range score of 3.83. 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.

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MADE IN MAUI: Kai Lenny negotiates a gnarly drop with Hawaiian style. Photo WSL / Masurel


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.

Kemper’s runner-up finish moved him to #1 on the BWT rankings, topping Lenny by 2,311 points. His recent success on the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) and BWT, is a testament to his training and commitment to surfing. Not only does Kemper lead the BWT ranks, he recently won the Sunset Open Qualifying Series to put him in second place on the Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Regional QS rankings.

“I am over the moon right now,” said Kemper. “First and foremost, I want to thank the country of Portugal. All of the people here are absolutely amazing and this place is beautiful. The warm welcome that you give all of us surfers is next to none. I am very thankful. I came here with that goal to make the final and do as best as I could.”

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FINALISTS: Back: Florence, Baker, Kemper, Chianca, Lenny. Front: Gonzalez Photo WSL / Justes


Today’s win marked a first for Chianca, but also a last for his mentor Carlos Burlé (BRA) who pioneered big-wave surfing and rose to become the 2010 BWT Champion. Burlé retired last year but competed at this event as an end-of-career victory lap. The fifty-year-old big wave surfer was eliminated yesterday in Round One Heat 2.

The Mavericks Challenge still has the potential to run before the Big Wave Tour season closes on 28 February. 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, mobilising 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

Nazaré Challenge Round 1 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

WSL BWT Rankings Top Five (following Nazare 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
13. Grant Baker (ZAF) 5,694 pts

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