In geographical terms, the Class of 2022 hasn't brought too many surprises. In the Women's the five rookies hail from either Hawaii or Australia. In the Men's, the same surfing powerhouses, plus Brazil, make up the majority of the qualifiers. The only exception is Lucca Mesinas, who becomes the first Peruvian to make the Men's CT.
That it's taken that long is somewhat surprising. Peru has both amazing waves, and incredible surf history. In the modern era, surfing was introduced to Peru by Carlos Dogny Larco in 1937, who had brought the sport from Hawaii, where he had built a friendship with Duke Kahanamoku.
It was properly put on the surfing map however by Filipe Pomar. He had learned to surf in the waves near Lima, before moving to Hawaii in the early 1960s. He became recognized as a leading big wave surfer on Oahu, and won the World Title on home soil at Punta Rocas in 1965. It would be almost another 40 years before Peru claimed another when Sofia Mulanovich took the crown in 2004. Since Sofia dropped off the CT in 2013, Peru has had no representatives on the CT in either the Men's or Women's.
Lucca Mesinas was just eight years old when Sofia claimed her World Title. He had been taught to surf by his surfing parents the year before in the waves of the small fishing town of Máncora located in the far north of Peru. He was a quick learner though, and just three years later he'd finished second in his age group in the National Titles.
During his teens, his surfing was groomed by the powerful beaches and point breaks of his hometown. He developed a highly technical and fluid style based on powerful rail carves. With several world-class lefthanders in the vicinity of Máncora, it is no surprise that his backhand remains his most lethal weapon.
After a stellar junior career Mesinas hit the QS full time in 2015. In 2018 he won two QS events to finish a career-best ranking of no 68. Yet in 2019 he went backward falling outside the top 100. His season was saved however when he won the Pan Pacific Games at home in Lima and secured Olympic selection.
Mesinas would make the Quarterfinals of the Olympics, a result that gave him confidence going into the 2021 Challenger Series. Yet, typical of the naturalfooter his route to the CT was a product of low-key, but high-grade consistency, rather than one explosive performance. Despite an early-round loss in Haleiwa, a Quarterfinal finish in Portugal and a 9th in France was enough to get him over the line and onto the CT.
And while he may not be part of the new Australian push, or a new isobar in the Brazilian storm, his CT competitors in 2022 would be wise not to be fooled by his easy-going nature and quietly spoken positivity. His smile is ever-present, but so is the steely focus. Crucially there isn't a complacent bone in his body.
Being the first Peruvian on the Men's CT will just be another incentive to succeed. He is immensely proud of his country and its surf culture. Next year he could well add a significant chunk to its already storied history.