After pumping out talented former Championship Tour surfers such as Raoni Monteiro, Leonardo Neves and Pedro Henrique, the town of Saquarema, in the State of Rio de Janeiro, continues to show its impact on the international surfing scene.
Just over an hour and half away by car from the capital of Rio de Janeiro, Saquarema is known as the "Brazilian Surf City", is preparing itself to host the Brazilian stop on the Championship Tour for the second consecutive year. It is also home to a pair of brothers that have been making headlines recently - Lucas and João Chianca aka The Chumbinhos. Raised in a family of avid radical sports seekers, they began surfing in Rio de Janeiro, but once they moved to Saquarema, their evolution in the water took of rapidly.
22-year old Lucas Chianca is having the time of his life. After being in the race for several XXL Big Wave Awards, in place like Pe'ahi, Mavericks and Nazaré, the fearless youngster caught the attention of people around the world during his first season on the Big Wave Tour, capping it off with a sensational win at the Nazaré Challenge in Portugal. Lucas finished off 5th in the ranking, despite only competing in two of the three events.
At 17-years old, Lucas' younger brother João Chianca has begun 2018 at full throttle as well. João competed at the World Junior Tour Championship in Kiama, Australia. He missed out reaching the Finals by the slimmest of margins and was defeated by event winner Finn McGill (HAW), by a score of 11.17 to 11.00 in the Semifinals.
"That was the best result I ever had in my career up to now," said João Chianca. "It was a close one. I felt a bit down after losing the Semifinal because it's hard losing when you've gotten so close to reaching your goal. All of the surfers were aiming for the Title, but I'm stoked to make it to the top-4 and make it past so many talented athletes."
While Lucas Chumbo currently trains with Brazilian big-wave legend Carlos Burle hunting down the world's biggest swells and a show at the Big Wave Tour Title, João is following his dreams and found his own path, choosing to go all-in on the Qualifying Series.
"I've always liked surfing heavy conditions, especially when it's barreling, but I don't intend to follow in my brother's footsteps," João said. "I want to get on the QS and try to qualify for the Championship Tour as soon as possible. My dream is to become world champ one day."
Before dedicating himself full-time to the Big Wave Tour, Lucas also faced the grind of the Qualifying Series marathon of events but didn't have the same hunger his brother has for contests.
"My biggest problem was having to compete at events with small waves," declared Lucas. "I didn't want to compete, I didn't really make an effort and that reflected in my results. I've always been kind of big and heavy, so small waves were never my strong point. But when the swell picks up, that's when things click. When things get difficult, that's when I surf my best and things become easier for me, even in competition. But riding bug waves has always been my dream and my passion. It's always been my biggest thrill in surfing since I was a kid. Now that I'm part of the elite group of surfers competing in big waves, I'm even more stoked about it."
Lucas obviously gushes over his little brother: "João has always been good at surfing powerful waves. He throws himself over the ledge, but he enjoys surfing smaller waves than I do…he surfs them better as well (laughs). I won't take it easy on him, but he'll still beat me. He's surfing really well and doing some crazy airs. That's his focus. He wants to become World Champion on the CT, he really wants to get on tour and I think he's ready to achieve his goals. He just needs to keep working hard, stay focused, keep steady because it's a long road ahead, but he's getting closer and closer every day," remarked Lucas.
João responded in kind: "I've always had a great relationship with my brother. I'm so proud of him. He's following his dream. Every time he's at a contest on the QS, he's always hoping it gets big because that's when he can really show his talent. He's doing what he loves, what he's always wanted to do and I hope he becomes World Champion. After his victory in Portugal, he's been more confident than ever and I'll be cheering him on," responded João.
Lucas' victory in Nazaré last February threw the young big-wave surfer into the spotlight, surprised that he won an event so early in his career.
"When I got on Tour last year, I couldn't even believe what was happening. Winning an event on my first year was unbelievable," Lucas said. "I got injured last season and spent four months recuperating. When I finally got healthy, I made it to the event at Jaws and got a 9th place finish. Right after that was my win at Nazaré. I've been really happy with my performances and I've dedicated a lot of time in and out of the water at Nazaré, but I never thought I'd win a contest there so quickly. I'm grateful for everyone that's helped me out, especially Burle, my sponsors, my family and Marcos Monteiro (BRA), who was the first person that really taught me about surfing big waves. Thank you to everyone that's helped me out along the way!"
While many big-wave riders hit the water primarily focused on making it out in one piece, Lucas is pushing the boundaries of performance and the evolution of the sport.
"I'm extremely grateful to all the big wave pioneers that came before me and opened the doors to big-wave surfing in Brazil like: Carlos Burle, Felipe Cesarano, Eraldo Gueiros, Perdo Scooby and Marcos Monteiro…these guys made it all possible for our current generation. We're all trying to push the limits and surpass our goals, looking for the biggest and best waves, but never shying away from performance. I think big-wave surfing has come a long way with equipment. There weren't inflatable vests in the past, so things were a lot more dangerous and people were just trying to survive," continued Lucas.
Nowadays, with such advanced equipment, high-tech boards and vests, it's a lot easier for us to go to extremes without putting ourselves in danger. The newest generation is trying to elevate the sport and doing all we can to perform on big swells. I don't think it's just about survival, but performance as well. I think big-wave surfing has a bright future and the competitions are just getting gnarlier with amazing performances at each leg. My dream is to become World Champion…more than once would be even better. I want to represent the big-wave surfers that came before me," completed Lucas.