Still not quite able to take it all in…So happy to take out the 2017 Viana World Bodyboard Championship event in Viana do Castello, a large city in the north of Portugal, this past weekend and register a back-to- back top spot in the event after a win in 2016.

On arrival in Viana, I was most fortunate to be invited to stay at the High Performance Centre (HPC). The HPC is designed to assist watersport athletes to train and achieve their goals in pursuit of their dreams. Here I was honoured to participate in a clinic aimed at educating young people and adults about the sport of bodyboarding through the presentation of different topics by Mike Stewart, Pierre Louis Costes, Socrates Santana and myself. The presentations sparked great conversation and debate, leaving all present with a better insight into the sport of bodyboarding and all that life on the World Tour entails.

Photo: To Mane

Into the first day of competition at the Viana World Bodyboard Championship 2017; and I was up against stiff competition from Round 1. The conditions were challenging for all, with strong waves making for some tough paddles and even harder rides. I was able to get two 8-point rides and progress straight through to Round 3. In Round 3 I was up against Daniel Quintana and the conditions again proved to be relentless. After multiple big paddles to the back and some rewarding ride scores, I advanced through to the non-elimination heat of Round 4. By this stage the wind was blowing really hard and the waves had doubled in size. The conditions made it very difficult to hear announcements from the beach but I managed the win, allowing me to skip Round 5 and move straight through to the quarter-finals set for the final day of competition.

The final day of competition was crazy with action. Riders in Round 5 were able to post high scores, promoting the top performers into the quarter-finals. The organisers decided to make use of jetski assistance for the quarter-finals due to the big sea conditions. I was able to narrowly win my quarter-final heat against Kevin Orihuela and move into a semi-final battle against Uri Valadao. Making the semi-finals in this event meant a six-out- of-six podium finish in Championship events this year, leaving me very pleased with my record of performances to date as I tried to focus on the upcoming semi-final heat.

A roll from my heat in Round 4. Photo: Miro Cerqueira

This heat was one for the books as, in the dying moments, Uri needed an 8.5 score to advance. I went on a smaller set wave with some time remaining but was unable to better my score. I chose to move across to the left of the competition area where I was able to get a short ride on a wave to complete a backflip. In the final 30 seconds Uri managed the best wave of the heat with a flip-to- roll to score an 8.75 which put him ahead of me. As time wound down, we waited while the judges watched the replay of our final rides. A score of 7.5 for my backflip was just enough to improve my overall score, narrowly edging Uri to see me through to the finals. Heart stopping stuff!!

Into the final, and it was going to be a tough contest with 2016 APB World Champ, Pierre Louis Costes, in challenging conditions. I was off to work early in the heat, getting a mid-6 score with 3 rolls on one wave. I then looked to back this initial score up, trying to get a ride that would leave PLC needing a mid-8 ride with long intervals between sets. The wind had picked up during the heat and time appeared to be flying by. Wave selection would prove critical. I was able to register a score of 7 leaving PLC needing to score a 7.75 with few waves on offer. Unfortunately, the ocean went flat for PLC as time counted down, allowing me to register a back-to- back win in Viana.

Photo: To Mane

Thank you to Surf Clube De Viana and APB Tour for their hard work at this event, co-ordinating so well to make the event such a success. We were all made to feel most welcome in Viana. Thanks again for support from near and far. Well done to all the riders on an epic event, especially Pierre Louis Costes and Uri Valando for riding four intense heats on the final day of competition.
Huge shoutout to Tristan Roberts and Luke Kitchin for the epic chair up the beach at the end of the final. It means the world to me to be carried off by such legends!

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