Winning my first World Tour Event

I am busy traveling home from South America, in Dubai to be precise, and it still feels like I’m living in a dream world. I can’t believe that finally the hard work, early mornings in the gym, bodyboarding every chance I can get and 15 years on the boog have brought me to this point. This year I was not looking at achieving my dream of winning a world tour event but by some willpower, support and push from friends, family and sponsors I have achieved a lifelong dream and I’m over the moon.

To say that I would go into this event and come out on top was not what I was looking for although from heat 12 of round 1 all the way to the final I felt like I was in a good place, like I had the drive to keep going and I had the support behind me pushing me to get me to the level I needed to go. In my first round it was Sergio Luis and local Sebastian Kreff that I had to battle to get into Round 3 and miss round two and in the last 5 minutes of the heat I dropped an 8.75 and a 9.25 with a barrel and a big backflip to solidify a win and go through to Round 3. Going into my round 3 match up with local ripper Nelson Flores I had seen this kid ripping and knew it was going to take a lot to beat him. I laid down some average scores and was waiting for the right one to come through to advance to the next round and in the last 10 minutes I managed to back my scores up with a 9-point backflip and take the heat.

Moving forward in the contest I had a match up with Dino Carmo, a Portuguese rider with a lot of talent and a good set of tricks to back him up. He posted some good scores and it was tough to keep the momentum up and take him out. Next it was onto the quarters. On the final day I would match up with the Frenchman, Pierre-Louis Costes and it was going to be a tough battle that I knew I would have to put it all on the line as he was riding like a man possessed. On Day 8 of competition we were greeted by a sandstorm which came in the form of some red dust blown up the coast from the Southern towns and met us in Arica in a dust cloud. APB’s Alex Leon and the contest Promoter, Tomato, were shut down by local police due to a health risk, as the dust getting into your lungs is not advised and this left us with two days to run the final day of competition.

On the morning of Day 9 we headed down to be welcomed with some good conditions and the day was set for the finals. Heat 3 of the quarters would be Pierre and I. I was amped. I put down some decent scores in the start of the heat with an 8.75 for a barrel to flip and managed a 6 for a flip. PLC battled back and got a 9 for a barrel to flip and in the last 10 minutes I was able to drop the score I needed, a 7.40, to take the win and fend off PLC. This put me in a semi with my fellow countryman Tristan Roberts. I was so happy to ride against him as it meant we were going to have one South African in the final. At the end of that heat after a back and forth battle I came out on top sneaking a backflip on the right, under priority, scoring me an 8 point ride and a barrel to flip scoring a 9.25 and I was through to the finals.

Amaury had a blinder of a semi, beating the on form Jeff Hubbard in the last 5 seconds of the heat with a 10 point ride so I knew the final was not going to be easy. Alex Leon said we were going to have 30 minutes in the final and this meant I would have time to wait for some waves. I started the final with a right and scored an 8-point ride with a backflip. It was then that I decided I needed to step it up and looked for some lefts that would get me good scores. I managed an 8.4 barrel to backflip and backed it up with a 9.5 barrel leaving Moz with a 9.75 score to advance into the lead. The last 10 minutes felt like forever. I was sitting in the water with priority trying to get onto the best ones to make sure Moz wouldn’t get the score he could easily get as I saw in the previous heat. In the end Moz was able to get one before the buzzer and I rode one in and sat in the channel wait for the score. It wasn’t enough and I had won.

In this time between winning and paddling in Moz paddled up to me, shook my hand and said the words that make him the athlete I look up to and respect. He has taught me to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. After coming second he still came up, raised his hands, hugged me and congratulated me on the win. Hitting the beach there were moments shared with some of my mates that I will cherish forever. Moments that even if I explained some people wouldn’t understand but I got hoisted into the air by Lewy Finnegan and Jared Houston and got chaired to the podium. This feeling will be in my mind forever. Having some of my biggest rivals in the competition and also my friends enjoying the moment with me.

My mindset is something that I was so happy with for the entirety contest. Going into it I just wanted to get some good waves and ride them as best I could. I wanted to be getting barrelled at Flopos the entire way across the reef and do some big moves out of the bowl when I could. I wanted to be confident in the water and use my mind to relax me in the tough situations. Putting my mind to work I feel I achieved all these aspects and have taken a great deal out of this competition. To everyone that has sent me a message, commented on a post, written on my timeline or called me I want to thank you. The love and support I was shown was overwhelming. I never expected it but I am so happy. I do this not for the money but for the passion of riding a bodyboard. It is my release, my job and my passion.

To all the other competitors. This was an epic comp. guys pushed the levels and we saw some pretty crazy moments and scores being thrown down. Well done to the APB Tour and Arica Chilean Challenge for another epic event in Chile. Thanks so much to everyone for all the kind words said to me, the support for me and the love I have received will be remembered forever.

To my family and friends. You guys have pushed me from the start. Made me able to chase my passion and pursue the sport I so dearly love. The support I have been shown over the years has made this dream come true. I have always wanted to win this event but didn’t think it would happen so soon! You all have been a part of this success and I can never thank you enough. My family, you guys are the best. Stood by me through all the tough times and we have come out on top.

And finally to the squad. Jacob RomeroJared HoustonLewy FinneganTanner McDanielTristan Roberts, Dave Hubbard and Jeff Hubbard you guys have been unreal. The support and love we share is crazy. You guys pushed me to achieve this, supported me through it all and carried me up to the stage on your shoulder. Look forward to doing it to you all soon!!

Lastly to my sponsors: GT Boards, Red Bull South Africa, Reeflex Wetsuits & Sun Zapper South Africa. Without you, none of this would be possible. Thank you for always supporting me and pushing me to achieve the best I possibly could!

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