It's been a radical few months for Lucas "Chumbo" Chianca. The Brazilian big-wave surfer has been filmed miraculously outrunning the clutches of a monstrous Nazaré peak on the back of a jetski, outgunning some of the biggest lefthanders at Pe'ahi and surviving boat capsizes in some of the most mutant Maverick waves into which anyone has ever paddled. Oh, and let's not forget he was one of the maniacs who rode huge Nazaré on a Supsquatch. Instead of forging a professional big-wave surf career it looks like the 22-year-old has been auditioning as a stuntman for a new Hollywood action blockbuster.
In the last three months he has criss-crossed the globe, logging three different swells each at Nazaré and Pe'ahi, as well as being one of the few to successfully paddle the historic Mavericks swell this week. It was therefore no surprise that Chianca was the first name awarded a Performer of the Year Invitee for the Nazaré Challenge.
Nazaré has been breaking nonstop since Christmas and Big Wave Tour (BWT) Commissioner Mike Parsons is yet again eying a favorable event forecast for the end of this week. Having had his first taste of the BWT last October at the Pe'ahi Challenge, with Chianca securing a credible 9th, the Nazaré Challenge now offers a chance for the goofyfooter to turn his recent incredible freesurfing in big waves into competitive success.
It is fitting then, that Nazaré is where his ultimate dreams of being a BWT Champion could start in earnest. It was in October 2016 that he first visited the infamous beach break under the mentorship of Brazilian big-wave legend Carlos Burlé, and began his quest to be the best big-wave rider he can be. The improvement and commitment in that short time has been fascinating to watch and has seen him gain nominations in the Billabong Ride of The Year, Biggest Paddle Awards and Surfline Performance of the Year categories at last year's Big Wave Awards.
If the Nazaré Challenge does run, Chianca will no doubt stick to a strategy of sitting deep and inside and waiting for the heaviest, barreling waves he can find. It is risky, but the rewards have been all too apparent over the last four months and the last few weeks in particular. His late takeoff at Mavericks this week was a prime example of a big-wave surfer totally committed to the task and in the form of his life. If he can transfer the same commitment and completion to the competitive realm, it will take something and someone pretty special to beat him.