The 2019 Heroes de Mayo Iquique Pro ended with emotional victories by João Chianca (BRA) over Dean Bowen (AUS) in the Men's QS 3000 and Nadia Erostarbe (EUK) defeated Meah Collins (USA) in the Women's QS 1500. In the Pro Junior division, Leo Casal (BRA) won against Lucas Vicente (BRA) and Gabriela Bryan (HAW) beat Daniela Rosas (PER) in a close Final.
Throughout the week in Iquique, João Chianca remained consistent and unleashed a full repertoire of maneuvers on Finals day. In the 3-4 foot waves at La Punta, Chianca saved his best for last as he scored an incredible 17.74 heat total that included a 9.57 after smashing a long righthander with a huge hack to start and a big air reverse to finish.
"It's an incredible feeling to win and I'm pretty much speechless. It's hard to describe what I'm feeling at this moment. This is my first win on the Qualifying Series and to win it here is extra special," Chianca said. "I'm only eighteen, so sometimes I just need to be patient and wait for the best waves because I know my boards feel great and that my surfing feels on point, so I just tried to enjoy my time out there."
Chianca has catapulted from 149th to 37th on the Qualifying Series ranking as well as taking the lead in the WSL South America rankings.
"Coming out of here as the leader on the WSL South America rankings wasn't even on my mind. There are still so many important events to go on the QS, so this is just an extra bonus. Everyone's goal is trying to get onto the CT (Championship Tour), but I know there's still a long road ahead, so I just want to keep my head down and do my best," added Chianca.
In the Women's division, Nadia Erostarbe (EUK) eliminated the standout surfer of the event Gabriela Bryan (HAW) in the Semifinals and dispatched an in-form Meah Collins (USA) in the Finals to secure top honors at the Women's QS 1500 in Iquique.
"I'm so happy right now, this contest has been amazing and it couldn't have ended better," said Erostarbe, who earned her second victory in 2019 after winning the Senegal Pro in March. "It's so hard to win a contest, so to win two this early in the year has been incredible. I was really nervous before the heat. Actually, I've been nervous the entire contest (laughs). But it got to the point where I just thought…hold on, you know what you're doing, just go out there and surf. Everything worked out in the end, so I'm stoked."
Gabriela Bryan (HAW) was impressive throughout the week in both the QS 1500 and Pro Junior divisions. After bowing out to the eventual event winner Erostarbe in the 1500, Bryan was able to clinch the Pro Junior title at the Heroes de Mayo Iquique Pro.
"I'm super happy that I won the Pro Junior, I definitely wanted to come down here and win at least one of the contests," said Bryan. "After losing in the Semis in the QS event, I learned from my mistakes, but I didn't let it affect me. It's such an exciting feeling, I'm really happy that I won."
The Men's division came down to a head-to-head battle as two of the best up-and-coming surfers from Florianópolis, Brazil clashed in the Pro Junior Final. Leo Casal (BRA) was able to defeat Lucas Vicente (BRA) in the final minutes by a score of 12.20 to 10.36 respectively.
"I grew up alongside Lucas (Vicente) and I've always looked up to him as one of the best surfers. So to get to a Final against him and come out on top is a dream come true," said Casal who has now become the leader of the WSL South America Pro Junior rankings.