(Reuters) – Brazil’s Lucas Chianca and France’s Justine Dupont claimed victories at the Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge on Monday, as high performance big wave surfing took a leap forward in perfect, giant surf in Portugal.
The specialty event saw surfers whipped into the towering waves by jet skis, using small, weighted surfboards and footstraps to help navigate the bump and chop.
For decades, surfers dreamed of transferring the tight turns, tube rides and aerial maneuvers possible on smaller waves to giant canvases, and from the first wave of the event, it was clear that time had come.
Towed into a clean 12-15 metre (40-50 foot) peak by his Hawaiian partner Kai Lenny, Chianca threw in a 360 degree spin midway down the face of the wave before pulling into a tube and signing off with another spin as he sped safely off the back.
The pair best negotiated the tricky lineup over their two heats, swapping between surfing and driving the jet ski to get their partners into the waves and out of trouble to win the Best Team performance award for the second time running.
“It’s an honor to be towing and be Kai’s partner,” Chianca said. “He definitely put me on the best waves of the day for sure and we did our best out there. This is one of the best performances of my life and I’m so stoked.”
It was not all smooth sailing for the pair, who got caught by a huge foam monster on their ski but emerged unscathed.
“It’s a dream-come-true working with someone like Lucas because we’re so like-minded,” said Lenny, who won the event the last time it ran.
“We go out and we know the exact waves we want and we’re trying to push our performance as far as we can in the airs, barrels and turns, and we’re just having so much fun out there.”
Dupont was also a second time winner after dominating the women’s division with a series of critical rides, while Brazil’s Pedro Scooby was another standout, claiming second place in the men’s after pulling into some cavernous tubes.
The waves at Nazare are super-charged by a canyon up to 5,000m (16,000ft) deep that ends just off the coast, funnelling huge winter swells from the Atlantic Ocean into enormous and often unpredictable peaks that break just north of the old fishing town.
Brazilian Rodrigo Koxa holds the Guinness world record after riding an 80 ft (24.4m) wave at Nazare in 2017, while countrywoman Maya Gabeira rode a 73.5 foot (22.4m) giant in 2020.
(Reporting by Lincoln Feast in Sydney; Editing by Ken Ferris)