The TUDOR Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge presented by Jogos Santa Casa took place today at Praia de Norte, Nazaré, Portugal and the world's best big wave surfers reveled in the clean, 40-to-50-foot waves on offer.
It was no surprise that Lucas Chianca burst out of the gates from the first heat, and despite not surfing with his usual teammate, Chianca and Nic von Rupp were an incredible team. Chianca scored his best wave early on, speeding down the line with a critical turn in the lip and riding it out for an 8.33 (out of a possible 10). Both surfers increased their scores in their second heat and Chianca was pushing the limit of what was previously thought possible on big waves when he launched into a mind-bending alley oop on a 25-foot wave face.
"We're super stoked, we have a special connection out there. We are always looking for the same waves and that's why I think we are the perfect match!" said Chianca.
"It's a really great opportunity, I've always looked up to Chumbo," said Von Rupp. "He is the guy that always pushes your limits and his own limits so it's a pleasure to compete with him."
Nazaré standout Justine Dupont suffered an unfortunate fate on her first wave, getting caught by the white water and injuring her left ankle when her foot got stuck in the strap of her board. Dupont was unable to continue surfing her heat, bringing an early end to her and team partner Tony Laureano run at Nazaré.
Michelle des Bouillons put up an impressive performance, pushing herself into some big bombs with her compatriot and partner Ian Cosenza. Des Bouillons put in a lot of time to improve at Nazaré and it showed, with better positioning taking off deeper and committing to huge rides.
Chianca once again retained the Men's Best Performance and the Best Team Performance titles, this time partnering with Von Rupp.
"I was happy with my waves, and I can't wait to learn more and try to improve with my surfing. I'm super stoked to win the best performance and best team with Nic. We had that connection in the water, that was the best part. I didn't have to say anything, he was choosing the waves for me and I just performed and he did the same so it was the best," said Chianca.
"Teaming up with Chumbo was amazing, he's such a positive guy, has so much energy. He's an amazing surfer, he's so kind and he's sharing his world so it was amazing to be out there. We got a bunch of waves and he was cheering for me and he got a bunch of good ones as well, so yeah stoked!" said Von Rupp.
It was a close battle for the Women's Best Performance award between Des Bouillons and Maya Gabeira, but patience and experience paid off for the Brazilian who clinched the top spot in the last heat of the day.
"It's been a rollercoaster!" said Gabeira. "It's been a really hard day, we got pounded in the beginning of our first heat and I used all of my canisters and had a bad sensation on my spine. I kept surfing but I was just a little bit overwhelmed with stress. Seeing Justine get injured just before my heat, then Antonio and now Jamie, there was just a difficult vibe today. I'm really glad I had Pierre on the ski with me today, he killed it and we made it in one piece. It's my first professional win and here in Nazaré where I've dedicated most of my life now."
First time tow partners Rafael Tapia and Jamie Mitchell delivered some solid performances, but it was Mitchell's commitment and athleticism that saw him in the perfect spot on every wave, and his ability to read the waves and combine different maneuvers together was the point of difference and awarded him the Jogos Santa Casa Most Committed Award.
Pushing himself in the final moments of the day's last heat to find a score and take the lead, Mitchell pulled into a massive backside barrel on the infamous lefts of Nazaré and unfortunately suffered a violent wipeout. Suffering a back injury, Mitchell was evaluated and treated by the medical team on-site and evacuated quickly to further assess his condition. He is currently being treated at a local hospital.
With the TUDOR Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge pres. by Jogos Santa Casa completed today, the best big wave surfers on the planet will shift their focus again to the Pacific and track swells around Hawaii in anticipation of the Quiksilver Jaws Big Wave Challenge presented by TUDOR.
The TUDOR Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge pres. by Jogos Santa Casa is proudly supported by TUDOR, Jogos Santa Casa, Red Bull, and Visit Portugal.