Brazilian big wave freak Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca has been on an absolute tear of late. He caught the wave of the day on the day of the decade at Mavs, won the big wave event at Nazare, and qualified for the Big Wave Tour—and that’s just the past month.
Over the past year, Lucas has shown up at virtually every important XXL swell, and been a standout everywhere he goes, bagging XXL award nominations just about every time he paddles out. Many say he’s the best big wave surfer in the world right now, and that’s a bit scary, because the kid is only 22-years-old.
With the Big Wave Tour’s season ending this past week, the roster for next year is set, and Lucas has a full-time spot on tour. We thought we’d pay him a visit to see how he’s enjoying his time off, and preparing for next year.
You had a big win at the Nazare Challenge a couple of weeks ago—your first big wave tour win, and it qualified you for the big wave world tour. Tell us about your preparation coming into the event, and how the day unfolded for you.
Yeah! All the work I’ve done is being rewarded. I spend all year and a lot of money seeking swells all over the world. This is my passion. In October, I went to Nazare to begin my practice, and after that I had a Hawaiian season of training.
My preparation is physio therapy to recover my broken ankle, isometric gymnastics, acupuncture, yoga, surf, chiropractors, a balanced diet and home-cooked meals when possible. At the competition I woke up really early, had a light breakfast, checked my equipment, talked to my coach Carlos Burle and my girl. At the beach I concentrated on the waves and focused on my strategy. And it all came together.
The first time I met you was last October, paddling massive Nazare, when guys were towing 60- and 70-foot waves. But the contest conditions last month weren't really like that at all. How did you feel about the decision to run the BWT event in waves that many people saying weren't big enough for a big wave tour event? Did that affect your attitude towards the event?
It’s really different when you tow and paddle. Towing you are able to get bigger waves, and paddling you should have more concerns. The championship started with the right conditions, and they stopped the competition because it got really big (then continued the next day in small waves).
I think we should have continued that day, since this is a BIG wave tour
I think we should have continued that day, since this is a BIG wave tour [laughs]. I love the adrenaline. But I know the committee is responsible for many athletes, and knows what’s best. This is a dangerous sport, and a lot of people’s lives are at risk.
A lot of the best big wave guys seem to think that you are the future of the sport. You are charging harder than anyone, you chase swells like a maniac, you have a great natural understanding of the ocean, and you seem to be pretty fearless. How have you developed into the big wave surfer that you are today? Where have you found your motivation, inspiration, and experience/knowledge?
I have competed since I was five years old, upgrading to the WQS at 17. Big waves were always a second passion of mine, because my hometown has pretty big haves. During a trip to Mavericks in 2015 with my uncle, Marcos Monteiro, I fell more in love with the big waves.
In October 2016, during another trip (this time with Burle), my focus turned even more toward big waves. Then, the focused training began. I started seeking swells without sponsors, with only with my family and coach’s help.
I feel excited when the ocean is big. I love riding the jetski, rescuing, and paddling. I’m motivated to try maneuvers in big waves, bringing what I know from small waves. And I study apnea techniques and enjoy pushing my personal limits. I fear some of the crazy things we do, and have to work on my mind to handle the pressure of always getting the big ones and performing.
You will be on tour this coming year as a full-time top 10 seed. What are your goals for the 2018 competitive year?
My dream and focus is to be world champion. I’ll continue what I have been doing so far, since it’s working, and I’ll be there at all of the swells, competitions, and big wave events. At the moment I am look for a main sponsor so I can do both the WQS and BWT.
Talk to us about your relationship with Carlos Burle, and the role that he will play in your big wave career in the future.
Burle is my mentor and coach. Really, he is a part of my family! He has retired, and now we have more time together. He helps with all of his experience from decades of surfing. I see a great future with him, and hope to make him proud.
The big wave tour waiting period ended last week, but winter is far from over. Where will you be focused over the next couple of months?
Currently I am on a little vacation in my country to recuperate and take care of my body. I’ll spend time with my family, girlfriend, friends and dog. April is the XXL ceremony, which I’m really excited about. After that, I plan to spend some time in California and Mexico, surfing and snowboarding.
It sounds like we may only have northern hemisphere events on tour in 2018 (Mavs, Peahi, and Nazare), so the season may not start for another eight months. What are your plans during the off-season?
I’m always a swell chaser, so I’ll be looking the maps. Southern hemisphere—Mexico, Fiji, Tahiti, Indonesia. And I’ll plan to do some WQS events in Chile, Peru etc.
Well it should be an exciting year for you, and for us as we watch what unfolds. Congratulations again!
Cover shot: Lucas at Nazare by Helio Antonio