The Inertia for Good Editor

João Chianca, properly pitted. Photo: Tony Heff//WSL

The Inertia

Here’s a very brief recap of João Chianca’s professional career since qualifying for the Championship Tour: as a rookie in 2022, he simultaneously put together some of the most impressive performances of a first-year competitor, while also failing to secure results that would sustain him on tour. He battled it out with John John Florence at Pipe in his first-ever CT event (the two surfers each nearly turn in perfect 10s). Florence needs a massive 17.77 heat score just to move past Chianca into the quarterfinal.

Less than 90 days later, Chianca runs into Florence again at Bells and they up the ante — an 18.86 for Florence and a 17.73 for Chianca, including two nine-point rides apiece and another early trip home for the rookie. Those two performances proved João was more than worthy of a spot on the elite tour but they also locked in an unfortunate fate: falling victim to the WSL’s first mid-year cut, which relegated the young Brazilian to the Challenger Series where he’d have to re-qualify.

He did just that and in 2023, left no room for missteps. By the time Bells was over, he had his first CT win under his belt (Portugal) and was wearing the yellow jersey. He competed for a world title in September as the world’s fourth-ranked surfer on tour, bringing his first two years on the CT full circle from cut casualty as a rookie to re-qualifying, to legitimate title threat. Next up, he nearly loses his life surfing Pipe before the 2024 season started. He was forced to sit out the first half of the year while recovering and later this month, he’ll be competing at Teahupo’o in the 2024 Summer Olympics.

That’s a roller coaster ride. The fact that João Chianca is an Olympic athlete and is still on the world tour today is nothing short of a miracle and it’s made him one of the most intriguing characters in professional surfing. Obviously, it hasn’t been an easy ride.

“Defeat after defeat, I truly thought I would never return to the CT,” he admits.

Chianca is not in position to break the WSL’s top five this year but he did receive one of the CT’s season wildcards, meaning he’ll be a full-time competitor for the 2025 slate. Seeing him at full strength to start another season will be an interesting plot point in his career story. Will he be back to world title form? Somebody should start securing those Hollywood screenplay rights if he is.


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