"Here I am in the Quarterfinals at Huntington," said an ecstatic Lucas Silveira after defeating Cole Houseman in a tight Round 16 matchup at the US Open of Surfing Huntington Beach presented by Shiseido. "I'm officially now a good small-wave surfer."
Silveira was probably one of the event's biggest surprises. For one, the Portugal-based Brazilian was one of the lowest seeds, having received the last spot on the Challenger Series just days before it started. He is also better known for his power surfing in waves of consequence, rather than for his ability in small beachbreaks.
In California, he was narrowly beaten in the Quarterfinals by the aerial antics of Kanoa Igarashi. However, the 5,000 points gained saw him rise by 77 spots on the Challenger Series ratings. With competitors now heading to Portugal for the MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira, he must now be considered as one of the dark horses for CT qualification.
Ericeira has been home to Silveria for the last five years. When he was young his parents would often travel to Portugal to spend the Brazilian winters on the coast near Lisbon. Having already formed an attachment to the powerful reefs, beachbreaks, and points around Ericeira, Silveria's affinity for the town was doubled down when he claimed the World Junior Title there in 2016.
His World Junior Title win, which featured a Quarterfinal victory of Kanoa Igarashi, was at Ribeira d'Ilhas, the same righthand point that is hosting the second stop on the Challenger Series. In claiming the World Title he joined fellow Brazilians Adriana de Souza and Gabriel Medina.
Silveria however hasn't been able to match the success of his illustrious compatriots. His highest finish on the QS came the year after his World Title success, where he ended the year ranked 55. His first, and only, QS win came in 2019, at the Krui Pro.
Yet while Silveria wasn't racking up huge QS points, he was earning a solid big-wave reputation. He'd been spending winters in Hawaii since he was 11, and his performances at Pipeline and Jaws gained him the respect of peers. Notable sessions at massive Nias, Puerto Escondido and around the slabs of Portugal further enhanced his credibility.
Hence his tongue-in-cheek reference to his now "official" small wave status. Having fought and scrapped to a hard-earned keeper result in Huntington, he has now set a platform for a potential charge to CT qualification. Lacking a solid result in 2020, he'll need at least two more results from the events in Portugal, France, and Hawaii.
However for the composed, hardworking and humble 25-year-old, the good news is that he now has the advantage of coming back to his adopted home of Ericeira. It is a town where he has a close-knit support group and extensive knowledge of the waves and conditions. For the World Junior Champ, there might be no better opportunity to deliver on the promise that the surfing world first glimpsed back in 2016.