The Nazare Pro 2018! What an event it turned out to be!
A new winner of the event and the world title decided in some of the biggest and best conditions in the world.
Going into this year’s event and the pressure to perform was truly on. The opportunity was there to achieve a second, and back-to-back, world title win.
The computations were also there for all to see; a topic for much discussion for the many keen followers of the APB World Tour as the final Grand Slam event of 2018 approached. Nazare, the place where anything can happen and the title won or lost in insane conditions.
1st place at Nazare to Iain Campbell and a world title win; a second place finish with other close title contenders, Tanner McDaniel, Pierre-Louis Costes and Jared Houston out of the reckoning, and a title win; 3rd place, matching my worst Grand Slam result of the year, and again with Tanner, PLC and Jared out of the reckoning, and a title win…….a handful of the possible permutations!
Opportunities for all; and I felt ready to give it a full go.
Going into the event, all were aware that the sandbanks were going to play a big role in how the waves were to be ridden. At times it seemed that the banks were very close to the shore with waves of 4 to 6ft breaking in knee-deep water or onto dry sand. It was a dangerous place to be on the higher tides and with the low tide, the water was very shallow.
After a few days with no real swell, the Trials event got under way and we watched the riders take on some tough conditions. The Trials’ riding went amazingly well and, in the end, six trialists made it through to the main event.
Into the Mens’ main event, featuring the new Grand Slam format in Round 1……. 32 riders participating in 3 sessions of eight 4-man heats. The aim: to make the top 16 to go through to Round 2 of competition. This is achieved by accumulating as many points as possible when the scores of your 3 highest waves are added to earn you a position in the top 16 on the competition leaderboard.
Not needing a heat win in this format, my aim was simply to get the three high- scoring rides required as soon as possible. Early in the heat, I found a good left-hander that continued to run off. Pulling into a big barrel that ran down the beach and completing the ride earned an 8.5. Happy with the start of my campaign, I moved down to where the other riders were sitting and, after duck-diving what felt like 30 wave sets, managed to get a wave with a quick roll and a score of 6.15. The waves had me tired but I pushed out to get one last wave. Onto my last wave and, with all the speed that I could get, I hit the lip doing an invert air and scored another 6-point ride. The end of the heat saw me at the top of the leaderboard with a 3-wave total score of 20.65.
Into the 2nd session of Round 1 and, although tired from the multiple duck-dives in the previous heat, I started with a good barrel. On exiting the barrel I was clipped on the head, slowing me down and not allowing a clean exit for a low incomplete wave score. This seemed to set the tone for the rest of the heat. I went wave for wave, eventually not landing a big invert for a 3.5 and unable to better my total for 3 waves.
In heat 8 of the 3rd session, and still in the top ten of the leaderboard, I was able to enjoy the heat and make a small improvement to my score with a 6.25 ride. This placed my score in 7th position on the leaderboard.
Due to the prospect of improved conditions, the decision was taken to delay the start of the next round of competition until the next, and final, day.
On the final day, the predicted arrival of huge surf conditions created time constraints for the completion of the event. The first round of the usual competition format was compressed to feature 4 four-man heats.
I was drawn with Amaury Lavernhe, Antonio Cardoso and Goncalo Pinheiro. I went into this heat with a clear mind and ready to post some good scores. I started slow and opened my account with a good barrel ride and a score of 7.25. I kept pushing through the heat while seeing Moz post huge scores. Another good wave, with a 5.6 for another barrel to air reverse, completed my scores for the heat.
This took me into the man-on-man quarter-finals with fellow South African, Tristan Roberts.
This was my toughest heat of the event so far. Going up against Tristan is always tough but good scores were there to be had. After my first wave, I knew that it would be hard. Tristan was on fire, building on his good momentum through the earlier rounds. I had one opportunity for a good reverse but only managed a low score as I went off the back of the wave. Tristan’s good riding eventually put me into combination for him to take the win for a place in the semi-finals.
I was now going to have to sit on the beach, watching the competition, with the prospect of another world title in the hands of the remaining competitors. Not a good place to be!
After Uri Valadao had stopped PLC’s challenge in the quarter-finals, it was Jared against fellow South African, Tristan, and Uri against Tanner in the semi-finals.
With both appearing to be peaking, wins in their respective semis saw Jared and Tanner take to the pounding surf as finalists. A Nazare win for Tanner would see him take his first world title and I would finish second. A win for Jared would have Jared and I tied on equal World Championship points and I would have one last shot at a second world title in a “Super Heat” surf-off, the winner to take the title.
The final started with Jared getting a good first ride. Tanner responded with a 6 and and then backed it up with an 8, placing him ahead of Jared. Jared needed a big score to go ahead of Tanner. In the last 10 minutes of the final, Jared took off on an amazing-looking wave, hit the section, and just flew into the flats for a 10-point ride! He leap-frogged Tanner’s score into first place and held the lead to win the Nazare Pro.
………and for the first time in the Mens’ Division of the APB World Tour, with the two top points scorers with equal points on the Championship leaderboard, the “Super Heat” was on!!
After having to sit on the beach for most of the day, dealing with a roller-coaster of emotion as the competition unfolded, I now needed to don my wetsuit, grab a rash vest, and ride my last heat of the year against Jared for the World Title.
I paddled out into the huge, powerful surf, trying to stay as composed as possible. An early ride and a roll brought a low score. I then fought my way out, found a good left to do two rolls and score a 6. While getting up the beach and around to the paddle-out spot, I watched Jared get a good wave, land a big invert to score an 8.75.
With the conditions now getting bigger and bigger, I paddled out and, after duck-diving wave after wave, saw a good wave starting to go down the beach. I snuck under the lip, getting barreled and came out. I looked up and saw it was going to barrel again. I check-turned but, with no speed, got picked up and thrown around in the barrel, not getting the score I needed. Jared then put a 7 on the board to better his score and leave me needing an 8.26. With time running out and in powerful surf conditions, this just wasn’t within my reach to get out again and post the required score. Disappointed, I had to sit on the beach to wait for a triumphant Jared and absorb all that had happened during an eventful day.
Looking back on the day’s events, I am able to view things from a different perspective. I watched Jared achieve his second world title in amazing fashion. I am left in awe of his strong will, stamina and push-through to win 4 heats, back-to-back. He defeated many riders in top form, rode 2 hours of competitive bodyboarding and then went out and put on an amazing display to secure the Nazare Pro title and the World Championship. I am humbled by his achievement and his affirming words to me after the event. Jared is a humble champion and I know that we can all learn a great deal from the manner in which he triumphed at Nazare.
I am most grateful for having been able to enjoy a wonderfully rewarding 2018 year of participation and competition. I am also very pleased to have been able to perform consistently throughout the year, finishing second on the World Championship leaderboard after a historic “Super Heat” at the final event of the 2018 APB World Tour. What a way to end an APB Tour year!
I wish to thank each and every person who has played a role in this incredible year 2018.
To my mom on the beach at Nazare, realizing a long-held wish, and to my stepfather, Hank, with his steadfast support from home: You both have been an amazing influence in my life and I will always be grateful for your support, love and constant encouragement for me to achieve great things.
To my dad, brother Andrew, and the rest of my family and friends: you guys have stuck by me through all the hard times to get me to the top of my chosen sphere of endeavor.
To the Lombard Family, thank you for the support and the love. You have come into my life with the most incredible support and I couldn’t ask for more. To Rosie, my rock, you helped me up when I was down, picked me up and carried me when times were tough and forever stand by me. I will love you always for your support and motivation and truly feel you’re the major reason why I am where I am!
To everyone who sent me a message of congratulations, motivation or inspiration, I appreciate all that you have done for me and for your support, no matter what.
To my physical and mental team back home: Philip Nel and everyone behind him at Le Roux and Nel, you guys have been a huge backing and support system for me to achieve great things. Also to Jacques Breitenbach, for your Chiropractic work throughout the year.
Lastly, to the people that make this all possible for me. My sponsors: Benoît and your team; Mike, Melanie and your team; Alex and Tamara, Josh, Billy and the team behind you, as well as Ryan and Leah – You have all made it possible for me to achieve what I set out to do and the support has been incredible. Thank you all for another successful year and the support that has seen me to the top of our sport of bodyboarding.
Thank you for a really successful 2018 APB World Tour. I look forward to an even better 2019!