The Sintra Pro in Portugal is the longest-standing bodyboarding event in the history of the sport. Twenty-three years of hard-fought competition has seen some of the biggest names in the sport of bodyboarding do battle in the water to win this historic event. In 2017 I was privileged to be able to win my first-ever Sintra title and, since the 2018 season began, I had wanted to get off to a good start in the first event of the European leg of the APB Tour.
The first days of competition went by and it was already evident that the fog would play a significant role in the Sintra event. Many heats would be placed on hold, and then completed at the end of the day once the fog had lifted. Practically every day of the event was affected, in some way, by fog or unfavourable weather conditions.
The men’s heats got off to a “hot” start to competition. Riders blazed through their first heats, making quick work of other competitors with good riding and strong performances.
As this was a qualifying event, I, along with the other “Top 16” riders, only started in round 3 and made our way through this non-elimination round. I notched some good scores and won my first heat of the event with a good backflip in the smaller conditions. This allowed me to miss round 4 to go straight into round 5.
A good number of the top-seeded riders were eliminated in round 4 by the strong competitors who had come through the earlier stages.
Into round 5 and tough competition! Australian George Humphrey and Venezuelan Angelo Freda. I started the heat with some medium scores and traded off with Angelo, getting the better of the early exchanges. I felt in control of the heat until the last 10 minutes when George came storming back and, in 3 minutes, had gone from having no scoring rides to take the lead! That’s competition for you! I ended in second and went through to the next round.
Due to ongoing fog delays and the possibility of not finishing the event on time, the Technical Director decided to condense the format and make round 6 take the form of 4 four-man heats. This format, especially in the closing stages of an event, certainly increases the pressure on riders.
I was in the first heat in the water. I enjoyed a good start and went into the lead early. All riders in the heat battled to find the right waves. The tide had filled in and this didn’t allow the waves to break hard on the bank to form good sections. I knew I needed an improved score to secure my spot in the quarter-finals. I managed to complete some good rolls in the dying minutes but the scores remained low. I was scored just behind leader Eder Luciano when the buzzer went. Into the quarter-finals.
The quarter-final was a match-up against a fierce competitor; Hayato Enokido, an emerging Japanese rider with high-flying moves. We both started the heat strongly with mid-range scores. Hayato then went into a massive ARS to get him a 7-point ride. My first wave was a 6, but I knew that I needed to back it up with an improved score as Hayato had all the skill to take the lead. I managed to get onto a wave which appeared to have good potential. A good backflip scored a 7.1, taking me into the lead. In the last minutes of the heat, Hayato took his last wave and was awarded a 5.8, narrowly missing the score needed to win. Through to the semi-finals.
Into the semi, and I was up against Eder Luciano again. Eder is one of the strongest competitors on tour and we saw his good form early on in the competition. I knew I needed to come out, all guns blazing, even though the waves had dropped in size. It was the end of the penultimate day of competition and, after already having ridden 2 heats on the day, I was just going to have to push through to stay ahead.
My first wave was unremarkable and ended with a high 4-point ride. Eder started strongly with a 6.25. I moved off to the right of the break after my slow start, hoping for a good wave to come through. The wave came and, having priority, I took off. I lined it up and went into a good backflip, landing smoothly and riding out… a 7.5. This was enough to put me into first position with Eder needing a solid 6 to get first. I managed to back my score with a 5.5 to take the heat and advance to the finals against Pierre Louis Costes.
On finals day, due to the bad tides and lack of waves, the event started later in the morning to give everyone equal opportunity to enjoy decent waves. The dropknee finalists entered the water and had an excellent battle with Sammy Morretino winning over Dave Hubbard.
Next up was the ladies final and as they entered the water, our worst nightmare, the fog, came rolling in! We sat and waited for 5 hours with little visibility. A slight improvement in conditions saw the judges and technical director attempt to complete the women’s final. After about 8 minutes, the conditions again deteriorated to the extent that the heat was suspended.
As the time ran down in the day, with no improvement in conditions, there appeared to be little chance of finishing the event.
At 17h45 the event was called to a close with no champion being crowned in the either the Men’s or Women’s events. After sitting all day, it was tough to have to leave without competing but Mother Nature had decided the result for us. PLC and I were awarded joint second position for the event due the fact that a final had not been held. I was happy with my result and again learnt more valuable lessons along the way.
A huge thanks to everyone who has supported me through these events. Thanks to my sponsors for their support and encouragement.
All in all, it was a great contest. Another well-supported Sintra Pro with some amazing riding. I’m very happy to be in Portugal for the next few weeks to compete, make new friends and enjoy the country.