It was again time to head back to Antofagasta on the 2018 APB World Tour. I was keen to see what the waves would produce this time around. During the buildup to the event, we were all aware that there would be a spot in the forecast that would produce conditions challenging for all riders. I arrived a few days early and was lucky to ride in some epic conditions, with some of the best mornings I have had out at La Cupula. This had me really excited for the heats and keen to get into the competition program.

The Antofagasta Bodyboarding Festival is renowned for presenting one of the most professional and polished of events on the Tour. The organisers, Glenn and Arturo, do all that they can to ensure that all the athletes are looked after; the Red Bull team pumps up the energy levels; and you have the support and interest of the passionate local body boarding fans. A secure and impressive three-level structure with a competitors’ area, media area, judging booth, as well as a massage and stretching zone, caters for the key elements of the event.

Photo: Pablo Jiménez

Photo: Pablo Jiménez

The love for the sport of body boarding in Chile will always blow my mind. The local government authorities are doing much to promote interest in the Antofagasta area and the Festival provides a very good vehicle in support of their efforts. During the buildup to the Festival, I was fortunate to attend a number of press conferences with numerous government officials, as well as the mayor of Antofagasta. I was surprised, and impressed, to see so many members of various media wanting to share in the apparent interest in our sport in some way or another.

I was fortunate to be seeded in Round 3 for the event, meaning that I would not have to compete in the early rounds. When Round 3 began, it also brought some insane waves with shallow low tides, providing us with the waves we really wanted. I had a slow start in my heat, having two short rides before taking control of the heat by posting two solid wave scores; an air reverse scoring a 7.9 and a 6.5 for a backflip just 2 minutes before the end of the heat. These scores put me ahead of Nelson Flores and Sammy Morrentino. The result put me through to Round 5 and allowed me to skip the elimination heats of Round 4.

Photo: Pablo Jiménez

Into the Round 5 heats and the conditions were reasonable, but the swell dropped throughout the morning. I went into the heat with Socrates Santana and Neiver Romero. Socrates and I ended up trading waves, riding the left that really started to turn on. We went head-to-head with decent scoring rides, Socrates getting the better of the first encounter. I was then able to get a good runner along the reef with two rolls, giving me a 7.5. On the next set, I was able to back this score with a backflip to spin, scoring a 6.8 and giving me a narrow win.

Conditions dropped, making for increasingly challenging conditions for all but the Finals day program had to be completed.

I went into Round 6 with Antonio Cardoso, Maxime Castillo and Carlos Sanz. I was able to post two medium-scoring rides in the tricky conditions. I attacked first position but came up short, only managing to get a 4.35 at the start of the heat and backing it up with a 5.65, narrowly missing out on the first place held by Cardoso. This second spot in the heat saw me through to the quarter-finals.

Into the quarter finals and conditions continued to deteriorate. I was trying to get onto the better set waves but in my haste I lost priority. Kevin Torres took off on a good right-hander and achieved the highest scoring wave of the heat, knocking me into 2nd position. I tried to attack first and, on the buzzer, made a decision to go for the barrel instead of racing for the air move, losing out on the possibility of a good score and the chance of making it to the semi-finals.

Photo: Pablo Jiménez

As the finals approached, it was good to see the incoming swell improve conditions to allow for some epic riding by contestants. It was great to watch fellow South African, Tristan Roberts, take out his first World Tour event in crazy style. He took the semi-final after putting his opponent into a combination situation, and then continued his onslaught by placing his rival in the final in the same position! It was so awesome to be able to chair him to the stage to receive just reward for his epic performance throughout the event .

In the end, I was able to take away a good 5th place result and a further good dose of experience. Onward and upward to the next event in a week’s time.Time to go back to the basics in Arica, Chile!  

Thanks to everyone for the support, and to the APB World Tour and ABF staff for a really well-run and successful event. Lastly, and as always, a huge “Thank you” to my sponsors for supporting me in pursuit of my dreams. 

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