Once competition resumes, twenty-year-old João Chianca (BRA) has high expectations for earning a spot on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT). In 2019, the younger brother of big wave charger Lucas "Chumbo" Chianca (BRA) earned the title as the WSL Latin America Regional Champion. In 2020, he was off to a torrid start after finishing runner-up at the QS5000 Volcom Pipe Pro and was competing at the last high-level Qualifying Series (QS) events in Australia before the season was cancelled.
"Without a doubt, the WSL Latin America Championship trophy has a special place here at home," said Chianca after clinching the 2019 regional title after winning his first-ever contest at the QS3000 Heroes de Mayo Iquique Pro in Chile. "Winning the event in Chile was incredible. It was the first of my career and it definitely took a weight off my shoulders and kept me motivated throughout the rest of the year."
Due to a reduced number of events on the regional calendar in 2019, Chianca's title was confirmed during the QS 3000 Maui and Sons Arica Pro Tour in Chile over Lucas Vicente (BRA), who earned the 2019 World Junior Championship title in Taiwan later in the year.
While Chianca and Vicente were both eliminated early at the challenging reefbreak of El Gringo, in Arica, Chile, Chianca took a small advantage in the rankings by a total of 1,335 to 1,325 points respectively. Riding high after his performance in Chile and with a more favorable seeding at higher-tiered QS events, Chianca set his eye on qualification for the Championship Tour.
Chianca competed at the European leg in Spain and Portugal before moving on to Hawaii for the final three events of the year, which included a 9th place finish at Sunset Beach. By adding 3,800 points to his ranking, he finished off in 49th place on the QS. By not finishing off in the Top 10, Chianca did not qualify for the 2020 CT, but did stay in Oahu to commit to becoming a standout at one of the most dangerous waves in the world, Pipeline.
Dedication to Hawaii - "I decided to invest a lot of time surfing in Hawaii since it's such an important place for all surfers," continued Chianca. "Some of the most important contests are held there and depending on your performance during the Triple Crown, you've got a shot at surfing in the CT event at Pipe. Even though I wasn't able to qualify for the 2020 CT season, my goal was to finish off the year in the best possible position to compete at the larger QS and Challenger Series (CS) events in 2020."
In February, his 2020 campaign started off with a bang after earning a runner-up finish at the QS5000 Volcom Pipe Pro behind Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) and ahead of Yago Dora (BRA) in 3rd place. It was another outstanding performance by Brazilians at Pipeline which culminated in December of 2019 with Italo Ferreira (BRA) being crowned the 2019 WSL World Champion over Gabriel Medina (BRA) in one of the most exciting Finals ever.
"For me, being in the Final at the Volcom Pipe Pro was the high point of my career so far," Chianca said. "Not just because 2nd place is a great result, but because of all the things that happened during the event. I had a lot of really good heats in waves of consequence, which for me, are the best in the world to compete in."
Island Love - While honing his craft for over four months in Hawaii, João Chianca encountered something unexpected in Oahu, love. João has been dating pro surfer Summer Macedo (HAW), who is the daughter of Brazilian artist Ronaldo Macedo, who has lived on Maui since 1989 and has had his paintings on display at Lahaina Galleries in Hawaii and California since 1994. João and Summer are the same age, being born only days apart. João on August 30, 2000 and Summer on September 11 of the same year. In 2020, Macedo used her time off from competition to spend her own season in Saquarema, Brazil with João.
"We didn't meet during my season in Hawaii. But after my result in Pipe, we began exchanging messages. We only met in person during the first events in Australia in March," Chianca explained. "We knew there was something special between us and since her father is Brazilian, she had an easier time coming to Brazil so we could spend some time together during the pandemic."
"I think everyone wants to be in a relationship during quarantine, right? Our relationship is super healthy and we surf practically every day together," continued Chianca. "She got to know a really nice side of Brazil and Saquarema and found out that Brazil is a beautiful place with great waves too. She is an incredibly kind person and an excellent surfer, so I believe she has really good chances of having a successful career."
2020 Season - After his positive start to the season following the Volcom Pipe Pro, Chianca returned to competition in Brazil at the QS5000 Oi Hang Loose Pro Contest in Fernando de Noronha, but was eliminated after his first heat at Cacimba do Padre. He then moved on to the Australian-leg of events which included a 25th place finish at the QS5000 in Newcastle followed by a 49th place finish at the Challenger Series event in Sydney. With these results, Chianca was positioned at 25th place on the QS ranking. These events in Australia ultimately became the last of the 2020 season.
"It's been a really long time since I've been able to compete, but my goal has remained the same - stay healthy and focus on CT qualification," stated Chianca. "It's been tough on everyone, but on a positive side, I've had the chance to spend more time with my friends and family this year. I've continued to train hard, I've been surfing a ton and hopefully, things will get better soon."
2021 Tour Transformation - The current WSL Latin America Regional Champion also commented on the changes the WSL will implement in 2021, including the fact that the calendar will be divided. The Championship Tour will begin in December at Pipe and will end in August with the Top 5 surfers advancing to the WSL Finals. Qualification onto the CT will now be determined via the Challenger Series, which will occur during the latter part of the year, while the Qualifying Series will decide the regional champions during the first semester of the year.
"I believe the WSL has initiated a new era in the sport with an innovative and challenging format. I'm anxious to see what will happen and be a part of this new era, not just as a surfer, but as a fan as well. I'll continue to work hard and will be ready once competition is back on. I want to thank everyone for all their support, the fans are incredible and I hope that everyone is safe and healthy," concluded Chianca.