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Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker Finishes Fifth as Lucas Chianca Wins Nazare Challenge in Portugal

February 11th, 2018 No comments

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker on his way to fifth place in the Nazare Challenge in Portugal on Sunday  Credit: © WSL / Justes

Billy Kemper Takes Big Wave Tour Rankings Lead with 17 Days Left in 2017 / 2018 Season

Reigning World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) Champion Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker battled through three rounds of daunting six to nine metre (20-30 foot) waves to finish fifth in the Nazare Challenge at Praia de Norte in Portugal on Sunday.

The third stop on the 2017 / 2018 BWT was won by rising big wave star Lucas Chianca, 22, from Brazil who won all three heats he contested with an amazing repertoire of manoeuvres more commonly seen performed on waves a quarter the size of those on offer at this event.

The second-ever BWT event at Nazaré ran over two days after dangerous conditions threatened the competitors following the opening heats on Saturday. Big Wave Tour Commissioner Mike Parsons, alongside the judging panel, rated conditions a Bronze coefficient, awarding the winner 10,000 points.

Competing in just his second BWT event, Chianca earned his first finals appearance and event win today after dominating the competitive 24-man field, made up of the world’s best male big wave surfers. The young Brazilian demonstrated command over Nazaré’s powerful waves and challenging white-water speeds to climb up to No. 5 on the Big Wave Tour rankings.

“I am stoked to win this event,” Chianca said. “Thank you to everyone for all of their support. All these guys competing are so crazy and inspiring. It was hard because when you get the call for BWT events, it is at the last minute. We flew here as soon as we got the call, were a bit tired, and then just went straight into the competition the next day. The waves yesterday were so gnarly and scary. And then today, we were on again. I am super stoked. Thank you.”

Baker, 43, a two-time BWT Champion (2013 and 2017) was the oldest competitor in the six-man final which represented a ‘changing of the guard’ in big wave competition by also featured 2017/2018 Puerto Escondido Challenge winner Kai Lenny (HAW), two-time Pe’ahi Challenge winner Billy Kemper (HAW), and up-and-comers Natxo Gonzalez (EUK), Nathan Florence (HAW), and Chianca, all of whom are in the their early twenties.

Lenny kicked off the hour-long final with a low-range score of 3.83 (out of a possible 10). The next wave of the set saw a split peak with Baker picking up 3.50 on the right while le Chianca gained control of the heat with an authoritative 7.33 on the left.

Gonzalez challenged Chianca with two mid-range scores, but the Brazilian consolidated his lead with a 6.73. Kemper stayed patient and was able to collect a 4.83 and 4.67 at the end of the heat to take second place ahead of Gonzalez, Lenny, Baker, and Florence.

Kemper’s runner-up finish moved him to No. 1 on the 2017 / 2018 BWT rankings, topping Lenny by 2,311 points. His recent success, both on the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) and Big Wave Tour, is a testament to his training and commitment to surfing. Not only does Kemper lead the BWT ranks, he recently won the Sunset Open Qualifying Series to put him in second place on the Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Regional QS rankings.

“I am over the moon right now,” said Kemper. “First and foremost, I want to thank the country of Portugal. All of the people here are absolutely amazing and this place is beautiful. The warm welcome that you give all of us surfers is next to none. I am very thankful. I came here with that goal to make the final and do as best as I could.”

Today’s win marked a first for Chianca, but also a last for his mentor Carlos Burlé (BRA) who pioneered big-wave surfing and rose to become the 2010 BWT Champion. Burlé retired last year but competed at this event as an end-of-career victory lap. The fifty-year-old big wave surfer was eliminated yesterday in Round One Heat 2.

The Mavericks Challenge still has the potential to run before the Big Wave Tour season closes on February 28, 2018. BWT officials will continue to monitor swell systems and weather patterns and will only call the event on when surf reaches the 30-foot-plus mark, mobilizing on 72 hours’ notice.

Nazaré Challenge Final Results:
1 – Lucas Chianca (BRA) 19.89
2 – Billy Kemper (HAW) 13.93
3 – Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 13.83
4 – Kai Lenny (HAW) 13.23
5 – Grant Baker (ZAF) 11.04
6 – Nathan Florence (HAW) 10.89

Nazaré Challenge Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Lucas Chianca (BRA) 14.91, Billy Kemper (HAW) 13.17, Nathan Florence (HAW) 13.13, Alex Botelho (PRT) 12.31, Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 11.93, Peter Mel (USA) 11.63
SF 2: Kai Lenny (HAW) 18.70, Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 17.69, Grant Baker (ZAF) 16.99, Nic von Rupp (PRT) 11.43, Ian Walsh (HAW) 11.04, Tom Lowe (GBR) 10.51

Nazaré Challenge Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Lucas Chianca (BRA) 17.63, Billy Kemper (HAW) 16.33, Nathan Florence (HAW) 14.31, João de Macedo (PRT) 11.56, Hugo Vau (PRT) 9.43, Pedro Calado (BRA) 7.13
Heat 2: Peter Mel (USA) 15.43, Alex Botelho (PRT) 14.23, Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 9.66, Tom Butler (GBR) 3.14, Carlos Burlé (BRA) 0.00, Aaron Gold (HAW) 0.00
Heat 3: Nic von Rupp (PRT) 20.23, Kai Lenny (HAW) 20.23, Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 17.57, Francisco Porcella (ITA) 14.11, Cristian Merello (CHL) 12.77, Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 11.39
Heat 4: Tom Lowe (GBR) 15.10, Grant Baker (ZAF) 13.84, Ian Walsh (HAW) 12.90, Nic Lamb (USA) 11.43, Antonio Silva (PRT) 6.06, Kealii Mamala (HAW) 5.00

WSL Men’s BWT Rankings Top 5 (following Nazaré Challenge):
1 – Billy Kemper (HAW) 27,140 pts
2 – Kai Lenny (HAW) 24, 829 pts
3 – Ian Walsh (HAW) 17,757 pts
4 – Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 14,123 pts
5 – Lucas Chianca (BRA) 13,331 pts
13. Grant Baker (ZAF) 5,694 pts

The 2017/2018 Nazaré Challenge is presented Jogos Santa Casa, and proudly supported by Tourism of Portugal, West Tourism, and Nazaré City Council. The 2017/2018 WSL Big Wave Tour is proudly supported by Corona, the Official Beer of the Big Wave Tour (excluding North America), and Quiksilver Airlift, the Official Inflatable Vest of the 2017/2018 Big Wave Tour.

ENDS

About WSL

The World Surf League (WSL) is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, annually running in excess of 180 global events across the Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed world champions in Men’s, Women’s across all divisions within the tour.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Tyler Wright, John John Florence, Paige Alms, Kai Lenny, Taylor Jensen, Honolua Blomfield, Mick Fanning, Stephanie Gilmore, Kelly Slater, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Courtney Conlogue and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

 

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