João Chianca: Is Brazil's new superstar a future world champion?
Who is He?
João Vitor de Azeredo Chianca, who also goes by the name Chumbinho, was born on the 30th of August, 2000, in the city of Saquarema, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Being born in a region commonly known as the “Capital Nacional do Surfe” single-handedly results in great exposure to the sport. When also accounting for family ties, it's easy to realise that he was practically born with a surfboard under his feet. This is because his father, Gustavo Chumbão, is one of the pioneers of big-wave surfing in Brazil. Furthermore, his older brother, Lucas Chumbo (who is about five years older than him), is one of the best current big-wave surfers. This is due to the fact that his father would push both of them into waves on a foam board by the age of three.They all started to compete at a really young age as well, with his brother even competing in amateur junior competitions by the age of five.
Difference Between Big-Wave Surfing and Smaller-Wave Surfing
Both competitive and free-surfing is separated into categories: big-wave and smaller-wave surfing. As the name suggests, the main difference between them are the sizes of the waves. However, there are some smaller differences such as: a jet-ski is usually used to “toe-in” surfers in big-wave surfers (which basically means that it is used to put the surfers into the wave), whilst in smaller-wave surfing, and especially in competition, the surfers have to paddle into a wave to get in. Another difference between them, is that smaller-wave surfing is more about the manoeuvres that the individual surfers can make, whilst in big-wave surfing the only possible manoeuvre is catching a tube, and that is in a few specific surfing spots. This therefore creates completely different standards for score keeping in competitions of the different styles of surfing.
Furthermore, the difference in height for the waves is extremely specific, which is that big waves are the ones which are measured at or above 25 feet from the face of the wave (which is the part that the people from the beach see). Hence, any wave that is below that measured value, is therefore considered a “small” wave (even if a wave above 2-3 feet is already considered dangerous for people who are in the beach just to bathe). Another interesting fact, is that other than for differentiating waves into big or small waves, the way in which the height of a wave is measured is in the Hawaiian Standard, which is from the back of the wave. This is due to the fact that it gives a more accurate representation of the wave throughout the day, since it is less impacted by changes in the tide. This therefore means that there is a chance that two people will accurately give the different sizes for the same wave.
Early Life in Competition
Due to his family's continued success in big-wave surfing, it would have been expected from him to follow in their footsteps. However, even if he does occasionally surf those types of waves, he has never done it in competition, so he decided to create his own career path and compete in smaller waves. With that, he began competing in WSL-organised events in 2015 when he was only 15 years old. In these events, there were some extremely impressive performances, which showed extraordinary talent, and mild success, even winning some smaller competitions. However, his first truly great achievement came in late 2019, when his continued impressive performances saw him getting crowned champion of WSL Latin America. This led him to chase bigger challenges and join the QS in 2020, which is the second most prestigious tour in smaller wave competitions in the world. Nevertheless, what was most important to him was that it served as the sole qualification method for the WSL Championship Tour, which is the biggest tour in surfing, as well as the competition he always dreamt of participating in.
With Chianca being so close to achieving his life-long dream, second only to being champion of the aforementioned Championship Tour, he began to write on a piece of paper his goal of achieving the qualification. This led him to great results in the 2020 season, namely a 2nd place result in the Volcom Pipe Pro. Yet, with the season being cut short due to the pandemic, he was only able to achieve 26th place in the championship, nonetheless, a great achievement considering it was his rookie season, but it failed to qualify him for next year's rendition of the tour.
In the next season, he switched from writing his goals on paper to his phone, but other than that, he continued where he left off. However, in this season, there was a change to the way in which the entire system of the WSL surfing competition worked, with a new championship in between the Qualifying Series, (the one he was competing) and the Championship Tour, CT, (which was his goal of competing). This tour would be called Challenger Series, CS, and it would include the best-performing surfers in each region in the QS, as well as the lowest-performing surfers in the CT (in the first edition the lowest-performing surfers would continue there due to the shortening of the season due to COVID). However, it would only happen during the second half of the year. This meant that during the first months, he would compete in the QS, and if he achieved the necessary results he could participate in the CS for the remainder of the season. With the challenge being set, he had a slow start, being eliminated in the first round of his first competition. However, after that, he never looked back, and achieved two-second places as well as a loss in the round of 32, in the three tournaments that followed. This resulted in him finishing 6th place in his QS, comfortably guaranteeing him a spot on the first edition of the CS.
In the Challenger Series, due to the astronomical increase in level of competition, he failed to achieve the breathtaking results that he had been stacking up in the previous championships. But, he managed to keep his average results consistently positive, never failing to reach the round of 48, and reaching the round of 16 twice. This concluded in him reaching 12th place, which wouldn’t have guaranteed him a spot in next year's CT seeing that only the top 10 receive this award. However, since four surfers who were already competing in the CT chose to participate in the CS ( this includes championship contenders such as: Kanoa Igarashi, Jack Robinson and Griffin Colapinto), their positions had to be excluded when considering who would qualify. This meant that he ended up finishing in the honorary 8th place, and guaranteed him a spot in the Championship Tour.
Competing in the Championship Tour
Contextualising Scoring in the Championship Tour
The way in which heat is scored in the Championship Tour is that each wave is given a score between 0.00 and 10.00, and surfers have between 30 and 45 minutes to surf, depending on the location of the event. However, even though all waves are given a score, at the end only the two best scores are used, and the value for each of them is added to form the final heat score, which ranges from 0.00 to 20.00. Any wave with a score at or above 8.00 is considered an excellent wave, and any heat score of 16.00 or above is considered an excellent heat.
In every event, there is going to be more specific guidelines of what the judges would award more points depending on how the wave is during the day. This therefore means that the judges will go to the beach in the morning before the event starts and create a report about it, and afterwards give it to every single athlete and coach in the event. This guideline will also be given to the commentators, which can therefore grant access to the fans. Even though there is a slight change daily, the following factors are always a major part of it: commitment and degree of difficulty; innovative and progressive manoeuvres (the specific ones are specified. Thus one day aerials will be awarded more, and maybe the following day tubes will take its place); combination of major manoeuvres; variety of manoeuvres; and lastly “speed, power, and flow”.
Contextualising How an Event Works in the Championship Tour
An event in the Championship Tour is formatted in the following manner. The 34 surfers from the Championship Tours, a local surfer, and a surfer which the event organisers choose to invite (usually called a wildcard) are the ones who participate in it. Furthermore, whenever someone is unable to participate in the contest, they are replaced by another wildcard surfer. Once the members are determined, they are separated into twelve heats of three for the opening round. In it, the first two surfers go through, and the last one is sent into the elimination round. These four heats of three occur, and the last placed one is eliminated from the tournament. After that, the remaining participants are organised into a normal bracket in which 32 surfers are matched against each other in 16 heats and the best one goes through. A random example of it is given in the picture below. Due to the decreased number of participants, the format changes slightly after the mid-season cut, however, this is not relevant to the article.
Explaining The Points Systems in the Tour
The WSL Championship Tour points system functions in a way in which every single event will award you points. The amount received varies depending on how far along the tournament each surfer goes. To be more specific, everyone who is eliminated in the same round is awarded the same position and consequently the same amount of points.
Whenever a surfer is unable to participate in an event (for whatever reason, such as an injury) they will still be rewarded points towards their total point tally in order to try to minimise the overall damage to their campaign. However, they are not going to be awarded any monetary compensation for it. The way in which they are awarded points is that they are awarded the minimum amount of points possible with actual participation, and thus it counts as if they have been eliminated in the Elimination Round. Hence, there might be more than four surfers who count as eliminated in this round.
Furthermore, another way in which the practical point system differs from the table above is that not all surfers are awarded points. This is because as stated previously, not all surfers present in the event are participating in the Championship Tour. Therefore, as of 2023, the local surfer as well as all of the wildcard surfers are awarded the same financial rewards as the other surfers, however, they aren’t awarded any points for their participation.
After the tournaments have been completed, the points that each of them has needs to be tallied up, in order to accumulate the actual points achieved through a season. To properly understand the way in which the WSL chooses to do this for the Championship Tour, it is better to separate it into two parts: previous to the mid-season cut, and after it.
As it will be better explained afterwards, previous to the mid-season cut in the 2022 and 2023 seasons, there are five events happening. The way in which all of the points are added up is that the worst performing event will be disconsidered, and the four remaining are added to create the total point tally previous to it. After the mid-season cut, there are going to be five further events, in which the points are accumulated in the same manner as the first five ones. In the end, there will be ten events tallied up with points, in which the worst two will be disconsidered and the rest are going to be added up normally to create the final amount of points. It is important to note that the event disconsidered for the first half doesn't need to be the disconsidered in the end. Furthermore, other than the points scored, there is no further specification of which events should be disconsidered, thus, meaning that any possible theoretical combination of events is a possibility of being disconsidered.
His Rookie Season
During João Chianca’s first season in the championship tour, the format would be changed so that the ten events would be split into two parts. The first five events would occur at Pipeline, Sunset Beach, Supertubos, Bells Beach, and Margaret River, respectively. After them, the top 22 ranked surfers would continue for the second half (which would consist of events in G-Land, El Salvador, Saquarema, Jeffreys Bay, and Teahupo’o). The rest of the surfers would be relegated to the CS and would have to requalify through there in order to compete in next year's CT. This new format was extremely unfavourable to João Chianca for three main reasons. The first one is that he would have no time to get used to the new championship, with his results having extreme importance immediately. The second reason is that due to him being a rookie, he would have a low seed, thus facing high-ranked surfers from the get-go. The last reason is that the two spots which matched most of his surfing (Teahupo’o and Saquarema) would only occur during the second half of the seasons, and he might not be able to compete in them.
2022 Billabong Pro Pipeline
This event was of extreme importance for João Chianca’s season, not only because it was his first CT event ever, but because of the first five events, it was one of the ones which fit his style the most, only arguably behind Supertubos. His event began in an Opening Round Heat against John John Florence and Jadson Andre, and his second place performance was enough to warrant his absence from the elimination round, and classifying him immediately into the round of 32. However, that was when we first saw his seeding problems appear since he was matched against Jack Robinson, who is an Australian championship contender and a great tube rider and would eventually end 2022 with the second-best campaign. Having said that, João was able to perform a great heat, accumulating the fifth-best score of the round, and managing to pull the upset and qualify for the round of 16. In this next matchup, we saw Chianca re-encounter John John Florence, who had managed to score better than him in their opening round. The Hawaiian local who is a two-time champion, is arguably the best surfer of his generation, as well as probably one of the most talented surfers ever. Furthermore, being born and raised a walk away from Pipeline, he grew up surfing that wave and therefore is one of the most knowledgeable surfers of that wave. This has helped him become one of the most dominant pipe surfers ever, only failing to reach the round of sixteen in 2012, winning a CT event, reaching three finals in CT events, and winning countless non-CT events.
In their encounter, we saw a breathtaking display, in which both of them exchanged excellent waves. In the end, Chianca managed to get the highest-scoring wave of the whole tournament, as well as accumulating a score which would see him go through in every other heat in the round. However, John John managed to achieve the highest heat score in the entire tournament, in a heat which had the viewers standing up, and was immediately named by the commentators as the best heat of the year, and it would end the year being with the general consensus of the fans considering it the second best to watch , only after their re-encounter in Bells Beach.
John John Florence vs João Chianca - Was This The Best Heat Of The 2022 Billabong Pro Pipeline?
2022 Hurley Pro Sunset Beach
After his great performance in the previous event, Chianca came to Sunset Beach with the hopes of achieving greater results. However, as he had mentioned before in interviews, he had been unable to prepare extensively for this tournament, due to limited funds and also having had a smaller offseason compared to other surfers because the CS had finished later than the CT. Furthermore, since this location is close to Pipeline, the time between the events wasn’t as long and had limited training. When considering all of the aforesaid aspects, and adding the fact that he had never surfed this wave before, it is to be expected that he wouldn’t be able to perform greatly in this event. Thus, he was able to again perform well enough to evade the elimination round, however, when matched up against the local in Seth Moniz, he was only able to achieve an average score and was unable to go through.
2022 Meo Pro Portugal
In this event, we saw a mixture of what happened to him in Pipeline and Sunset. This is because, similarly to Pipeline, this is a wave that fits his style extremely well. However, similarly to Sunset Beach, it is a wave in which he lacked preparation, especially when compared to the competition, since most of the other surfers in the event had already either completed or free-surfed in that wave. Therefore, his results weren't great, considering that we saw him being eliminated by Conner Coffin (who had finished the year before being ranked number four in the world) in the round of 32.
2022 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Necessitating a great result, and having only two events left to produce it, we saw Chianca travelling early to Western Australia and being constantly in the water in order to prepare for the event. However, since the wave in Bells Beach matched his style more than the one in Margaret River, we saw him focus more on his efforts there. His preparation was helped by the fact that there was a month-long break in between the event in Supertubos, Portugal and the event in Bells Beach. This is great when comparing the time between all of the other events, as can be seen in the picture below.
In this event, we saw João Chianca fly through his Opening Round heat, finishing first place in his heat against Caio Ibelli and Conner Coffin. Once again, he ended up re-encountering John John Florence in his matchup in the round of 32. As forenamed, they eventually produced a masterpiece of heat, which would undoubtedly be the best heat of the entire year. In it, João Chianca produced the third-best heat score of the entire tournament, as well as if accumulating the waves that weren’t used for his heat score, he would still manage to go through on 11 of the other 15 heats in the round. However, similarly to their encounter in Pipeline, John John was able to produce the best heat of the entire championship.
The Best Heat Of The Year?! John John Florence vs João Chianca | Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
2022 Margaret River Pro
In this event João Chianca came in desperately needing a result to be able to maintain his position on the Championship Tour. However,it was on a beach which didn’t match his surfing style. To further complicate this situation, after he easily got through his Opening Round Matchup, we would see him being matchup against Italo Ferreira, the 2019 world champion and a championship contender year in, year out. In the end, he would be unable to pull the upset and would be eliminated from the event, as well as consequently being relegated to the Challenger Series.
2022 Challenger Series
The first edition of the Mid-Season cut saw some extremely great surfers being relegated to the Challenger Series. Examples of such are the surfers who finished the 2021 CT in fourth and fifth place, Conner Coffin and Morgan Ciblic, CT-event winner Owen Wright, as well as countless other great surfers.
João Chianca started his campaign in the 2022 Challenger Series in an extremely poor manner, however, reasons such as mental health most likely played a considerable role in it. But, as he later mentioned in interviews, after a while he went back to his old ways, and would write his goals of returning to the CT on his phone’s note app daily, in order to maintain focus on his dream and increase dedication to his training. With this, he was eventually able to pick up his form, eventually even achieving a second-place position in the VANS US Open of Surfing, as well as a third position in the Corona Saquarema Pro. This would eventually be enough to see him finish in eighth place, and this time no CT surfer finished above him. This was enough to see him return to the 2023 Championship Tour.
The Second Season in the Tour
In his second season on the tour the format would stay essentially the same. The only two notable differences are the substitution of the Surf Ranch in place of G-Land, and an alteration to the seeding mechanism. The latter would be important since it emphasises performance in the opening round and thus rewards performance in it with better seeding, and consequently an easier path. Therefore, decreasing the challenges when performing well in the first round.
2023 Billabong Pro Pipeline
In this year's edition of the Pipeline event, João Chianca came in hungry for revenge and was surfing really well from the beginning, consequently being able to almost effortlessly win his opening-round matchup against Kanoa Igarashi and Jake Marshall. Hence, with the different seeding mechanisms, he should theoretically have an easier route. However, this was not necessarily the case, since in the round of 32 he immediately re-entered Kanoa Igarashi, an Olympics Silver Medallist, as well as the defending world number five. In their matchup, we saw João catch an excellent wave right at the beginning of the heat, forcing Igarashi to produce great scores from the beginning, and he was ultimately unable to do so, meaning that João was able to pull the upset.
In his next matchup he was matched up to a rookie in Rio Waida. This doesn't mean it would be an easy matchup since the Indonesian-born surfer is a great tube rider, and finished third in the 2022 CS. This all concluded in an extremely competitive matchup, in which both of them achieved a similar score for their first wave, and the only thing which could separate them was their second wave. Since João Chianca had a slightly better score in it, he was able to go through to the quarterfinals, in which he would face the defending world-champion, Filipe Toledo, in what would be his first appearance on final’s day.
On final’s day, the quality and size of the waves had significantly decreased, due to the swell diminishing as well as an increase in onshore wind. This meant that it was harder for the surfers to perform well, and to catch great waves, hence creating significantly less exciting matchups. In the end, João Chianca had a close but underwhelming win against Toledo. This got him through to the semifinals, which saw him matched up against Jack Robinson, setting up a possible revenge for last year. Furthermore, this time they both had separately chosen to have Volcom as their title sponsors, thus meaning that they were staying in the same house, further intensifying the matchup. However, since the waves hadn’t gotten any better, we were presented with another underwhelming matchup, which this time saw Jack Robinson get the better result and advance to the final.
Interestingly, the extent to which João Chianca’s performance in the 2023 Billabong Pro Pipe Masters was amazing, awarded him with enough points so that he was all but guaranteed to make the mid-season cut, consequently guaranteeing his spot for the rest of the season, as well as qualification for the beginning of the 2024 Championship Tour. This allowed him to surf relatively stress-free for the following events, and to fulfil his dream for longer.
2023 Hurley Pro Sunset Beach
Having already qualified for the next edition of the championship tour, João Chianca was already surfing stress-freely, which allowed him to perform better. Furthermore, unlike last year's edition, he had already surfed this wave, hence the increased familiarity resulted in improved performance. On the other hand, as was stated in the section for last year's event, due to the sparse formation of tubes, this is not a wave that fits his style completely. In conclusion, whilst the overall expectations were that he would achieve a better result than what he did in the previous year, almost no one would expect him to be able to match his results in Pipeline.
To start the event, João Chianca would have to face off against John John Florence and Jackson Baker in his opening round fixture. In it, he would choose to use a different strategy than his competitors. This is because the others chose to stay in a specific position further away from the beach, thus catching bigger waves with the potential of scoring a greater amount of points. However, with this strategy, they would ultimately be unable to catch a lot of waves, thus meaning that the selection had to be on point, as well as having a lower acceptance for mistakes. This led João to choose a different strategy in which he would stay lower in the lineup, and catch the waves that were left behind by the other two surfers. This means that he would have to surf extremely well to achieve single-wave scores that his competitors would, however, he would most likely be guaranteed to accumulate a good amount of points, as well as maybe discarding the scores that others could have used. This discrepancy in strategies between the surfers is represented by the scoreline, in which João would end up surfing 7 waves, whilst the other two would only catch 2 each. This is also seen by the fact that he would end with a pretty average score of 13.64, which would see him only finish second in his heat, behind John John’s, impressive 15.83. However, it was a score which would see him go through in any other heat that he could have participated in, thus showing why it was a “safer” strategy.
Once he got through to his Round of 32 heat, we would see him face off against another Brazilian, Yago Dora. This was an extremely interesting heat, since it would compare Yago’s fast and progressive surfing with risky aerial manoeuvres, against João’s fluid but aggressive surfing style. In the end, partly due to the waves not forming in an ideal way to facilitate aerial movements, João Chianca would easily go through, after his excellent heat score of 16.67 ultimately overwhelmed Yago Dora, who would only manage to accumulate a score of 11.23. This would see João face off against another Brazilian, Italo Ferreira.
This was an extremely interesting matchup, due to the desire that both of the surfers had to win it, even if they were for separate reasons. Firstly, Italo Ferreira needed to win this heat, due to the fact that he had a poor result in the first event of the year. Thus meaning that he needed to win this heat in order to get momentum going, so that he could go into the following events better positioned to win them, consequently improving his title-charge. João Chianca came into the heat with a completely different reason to want to win it. This is because this was their first re-encounter after the 2022 Margaret River Pro, in which Italo not only one, but he also ended up relegating him. This then resulted in João wanting to win it, to not only prove to himself that he had improved from last year, but also to get a sort of revenge over Italo. All of this accumulated tension between both parties, is most likely the reason for which both of them began the heat extremely poorly, and making mistakes which they wouldn’t normally do. However, both of them eventually managed to improve, especially João Chianca, who would end up surfing two excellent waves, which saw him accumulating the heat score of 16.83, a score so good that it would end up being the highest score of the entire round.
This led João to his second quarterfinal in a row, which then 100% guaranteed that he would make the mid-season cut, since now he could be eliminated in the first round possible in all of the following events (something that is near impossible, barring injury), and he would still make the cut. In his new quarterfinal matchup, we would see João Chianca face off against Matthew McGillivray, in a match with the stakes considerably lower than they were the previous round. This is because other than the monetary reward, the points awarded for a win, and the bragging rights of reaching a semi-final in a world event, neither surfer had any motivation to win the matchup. Ultimately, they would still produce an incredible viewing experience since both of them were able to surf very good waves, however, only João Chianca was able to surf an excellent wave, consequently enabling him to achieve the highest heat score, and advance to the next round. Reaching a second consecutive semi final in a row is an incredible feat, which would make any athlete extremely proud of themselves, but in this case it was even better for him. This is because due to how this round ended up shaping itself, all other surfers above João had been eliminated, thus guaranteeing him a minimum of a third position in the standings once the event has been finished, thus showing his incredible talent, and even more importantly, his consistency. This is such an incredible achievement that when a reporter mentioned it to him during an interview, it was possible to see him tear up of happiness, since it represented the possibility that he could eventually achieve his goal of becoming a world champion.
In his semi final matchup, we would see another all-brazilian heat, since Chianca would be facing off against Filipe Toledo, in another match with high stakes, however, in this case it was almost as if the roles were switched. This is because this time João’s motivation was due to the fact that a win would lead him into his first final in a CT event ever, and consequently cement a possible title charge, even if unlikely. This then leads the viewer to assimilate his incentives to the ones that Italo had in their matchup. On the other hand, you could feasibly assimilate Filipe’s stimulation to win the matchup to the one João had against Italo. This is because Toledo had been handed his last defeat by Chianca, only a few days prior, thus leading him to want to get a sort of revenge over him. This led them into another encounter in which the lead was exchanged constantly, and extremely high scores were being accumulated (with Toledo’s 9.10 being one of the best waves of the entire tournament). This is all represented by the fact that João’s near-excellent score of 15.60 would see him lose and eventually be eliminated.
2023 MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal
With the conclusion of the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, both the surfers and the viewers would have a month-long wait before the beginning of the next event, in the 2023 MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal. Everysingle year, this is one of the most exciting events on tour, which both the surfers and viewers are always looking forward to. This is due to the location in which the event is held, the beach of Supertubos, which is inside the surf-city of Peniche, Portugal. There are two main reasons for it: the fans and the waves. The fans bring great anticipation to the event, because the region lives and breathes surfing, mainly due to the countless of marvellous surfing spots close to it, ranging from great small waves (such as Supertubos, Banana, Papoa, and countless others) to Nazare (a big-wave beach with the highest recorded wave ever). With all of the love the local culture brings to the sport, this place ends up being one of the places with the most heart-warming, inviting and present fans, even with the town only having a population of 16,000 people. As was previously mentioned, the other reason for why this event is consistently astonishing is the waves provided. This is because it is a powerful sand-break, in which all of the waves are different, however, due to the rocks present closely beneath the sand, they aren’t completely different, usually resulting in great tubes forming, as well as some waves which are really fast and end with “ramps” thus allowing some of the prettiest aerials to be performed there.
Moving on to João’s tournament, which for the first time in his career, began extremely poorly. This is because he was never able to truly get in sync with the wave, committing a mistake in every single wave he attempted to surf. This then led him to the absolutely horrific score of 7.64 in his opening round, as well as a heat loss. Interestingly enough, this event ended up being one of the ones with the most upsets in the opening round ever (in which Chianca obviously contributed to it). This is because other than him, some of the biggest names of surfing ever, Kelly Slater (an 11-time world champion, and the greatest surfer of all time) and Gabriel Medina (arguably the best surfer of his generation), both were sent into the opening round. Furthermore, other great surfers such as Kolohe Andino, Caio Ibelli, and even title contender Kanoa Igarashi all ended up losing their opening round matchups. This was all extremely problematic for Chianca, since in the Elimination Round seeding is not a factor, meaning that there was a possibility that he would have to get into a heat with one of them, and even possibly two of them. Ultimately, due to an almost other-wordly amount of luck, João somehow managed to avoid all of them, leading him to cruise through his Elimination Round matchup.
However, that luck ended immediately, as he would have to face the aforementioned Kelly Slater in his next matchup for the round of 32, leading to an extremely interesting matchup, in which the young hot-shot would have to face one of the people he grew up idolising. This ended up being another extremely close matchup, in which both of them couldn’t manage to perform exceptionally well, and João would end up leading almost all of the heat. However, in the dying seconds of the heat, a great wave came, in which Kelly Slater had priority, and could choose to go in the wave. However, in a rare mistake he chose to let it go with the hopes that a better one would come afterwards, which ended up not being the case. To make it even worse, a surfer in another heat chose to go in it, after Kelly had passed on it, and managed to perform well enough to achieve the score that he would have needed. In the end, João would see through the rest of the heat, eventually winning it and moving on to face Ethan Ewing in his round of 16 matchup.
This was another challenging matchup, since Ethan Ewing is an extremely capable surfer, being the 2022 fourth place finisher. Furthermore, they both have a similar and aggressive style of surfing, making the viewing experience more interesting. However, once they got into the water, it was in between the low-and-high, resulting in the waves not being as good. In the end, this resulted in both surfers performing under average, especially Ewing, who only managed to achieve a score of 10.17. Meaning that Chianca’s poor performance, and underwhelming score of 13.06 would see him go through to the quarterfinals for his third event in a row.
In it, we would see João face a challenging but lesser opponent, in Connor O’Leary. In it, again neither were particularly able to perform pretty well, with João scoring a total of 13.00 and Connor 12.27. However, what is interesting is that the similar scores were achieved very differently, since the Australian did it through wave scores of 6.00 and 6.27, which are pretty average scores. On the other hand, João quickly managed to get a very good wave score of 7.17, and from there, he only had to administer the heat, which he did well, leading him to victory.
In his third semi-final in a row, he had already guaranteed to climb to at least the second position in the ranking, due to a mixture of his great performance, and Toledo’s underwhelming result. In his next matchup we would see him face off against another young surfer in Callum Robson. This was an interesting surfer, because due to recent form, as well skill, it is clear to see that João is the superior surfer. However, this is a wave that fits Callum Robson extremely well, since he had already surfed the best wave in the entire tournament, achieving a perfect ten. On the other hand, even though Chianca managed to win all of his heats, he hadn’t done it in a very convincing fashion, achieving an underwhelming score in arguably all of his previous heats. Having said that, this all changed once the surfers actually got in the water. Firstly, João surfed one of the best waves of the entire tournament, achieving the near-perfect single wave score of 9.43. Furthermore, he managed to back it up with another great wave, and even discarded two very good waves. On the other hand, Callum Robson severely underperformed, only managing to achieve a score of 10.17. In the end, this ended up being such a one-sided matchup, that even if only using the waves which in the end didn’t even enter in Chianca’s final score, he would have still been able to go through the final.
Having just achieved one of his childhood dreams, which was getting through to a CT event final, it would be easy for everything to get into the athlete's head, hindering his performance. Furthermore, his challenge grew even further due to the fact that he had to face the extremely on-form, world number one, Jack Robinson. However, that didn’t happen, and he managed to create one of the best surfing performances of recent years. In his final heat, João came off flying, managing to get his first excellent wave less than ten minutes into the heat. After that, he never backed off, managing to keep on constantly improving his score. In it, João managed to get another excellent wave soon after, already achieving an amazing score of 16.33 with more than half of the match to go. He then improved the score even further, by getting a near perfect score of 9.07, and thus improving his score to 17.57, which would ultimately be the best heat score of the entire tournament. Even after achieving that, he continued performing unbelievably well, achieving another excellent wave of 8.13, even if it wouldn’t be able to enter into his final scoreline. In the end, Jack Robinson also surfed pretty well, even surfing a wave of 8.97, however, as was previously stated, the score Chianca achieved in the final was the best one in the tournament. Furthermore, Chianca’s third and fourth waves (which as mentioned previously in the document don’t enter the final scoreline) were so good, that when combined, they would be enough to win the heat, and would even combine into a score of 15.96, which is would be the fifth best score of the entire tournament.
In the end, when the buzzer sounded, signifying that the heat had ended, and for the first time in his life, João Chianca would be crowned champion of a Championship Tour event, the camera focused on the surfer, who was still in the water, and he was visibly crying. It was a moment which represented the life-long dedication that had gotten into his dreams, and for a brief moment in time, it made everything he had suffered due to the dedication, worth it. His heart-warming interview following it can be seen in the link below:
João Chianca Wins First CT With Near-Perfect Heat Over World No. 1 At The MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal
Is He a Future World Champion?
In conclusion, João Chianca is one of the most talented surfers in the WSL Championship Tour, and recently has been performing at a level which could lead him to one day being crowned world champion. Furthermore, through all of the hardships that he has gone through his life competing, he has become extremely consistent, as well as being mature enough to know to not try to over-perform when it isn’t necessary, causing him to very rarely commit avoidable mistakes. This leads him to become an even greater competitor, increasing drastically his chances of achieving his life-long dream of becoming a world champion. Therefore, even if his recent success isn't enough to crown him champion this year, it is almost inevitable that it will eventually happen, especially if he continues being as dedicated and focused as he is.