The Viana World Bodyboarding Championships 2018 will go down as one of the most mentally draining events of my career to date.
Looking back, I now realise that the impending final event of the APB Grand Slam Series, the Nazare Pro, had me preoccupied and contributed to the difficulty experienced in concentrating on the event at hand. The wrong frame of mind if you are to compete at your best in Tour events!
At this level of competition, it is very important to remember to concentrate more on the process of getting a positive result, than on the possible outcome. You need to be so mindful of working to remain in the present, rather than trying to think too far ahead.
Viana is such an unpredictable wave venue with many variables contributing to this unpredictability.
We arrived on the first day to see surf conditions which had riders competing in small waves at the start of the competition period. As the days went by, so the swell lifted with some really good swell and wave period approaching for us.
As this was another QEST event on the calendar, I focused on winning heats instead of setting big scores on the board, as required in this format of competition. The first couple of heats revealed the potential for some big scores. Bigger waves had started to pulse through, sending a good selection of lefts and rights for the riders. This allowed for some epic moves to be thrown down with the early rounds of men, as well as the Pro Juniors, putting on an amazing display of bodyboarding.
Surf conditions appeared to deteriorate by the time Round 2 began. I met up with Ricardo Rosmaninho, Cristobal Fernandez and Diego Cabrera in my first heat. In a slow and rocky start, I just could not find waves that linked right through to the inside. I looked hard for the waves with scoring potential but ended up getting only a 5.5 and a 4.25. I was out-surfed by an on-form local in Ricardo, who managed to get some linking moves to send us into Round 3 while he advanced to Round 4.
Round 3. Again, I felt the challenge of the event come into play. It was tough competition with Diego Cabrera and Isaias Ravyc, both riders on form and with Isaias on his way to qualifying for the World Tour. Starting with a 5-point ride, I knew that I would have to step up in order to get above the two riders and secure my spot in Round 4. Both riders started the heat well. As the heat progressed, I managed a 6.05 and, on my last wave, just got ahead of Isaias, managing a 6.55 and a 2nd place in the heat behind Diego.
In the Round 4 heat I felt a bit of momentum building again. I was up against Alex Uranga and Cristian Perez; both riders with the ability to ride some really good waves and post big scores. With this in mind, I took to the water and focused on what I could do to get some good scores on the board. I started the heat slowly with mid-range scores but caught one from the back that mutated into a good ramp and, with all the speed, pushed into a big roll. I continued with the attack and was able to get another roll, scoring a 7 and 7.35 for the two waves. This put me into the lead ahead of Alex and my first heat win of the event.
Round 5 is always a tough round. Everyone remaining in the competition has, by then, posted good scores and all have something to prove.
On the morning of the start of Round 5, we arrived at the beach to find that the waves had dropped but the scores were there to be had. I was matched against Mack Crilley, a Hawaiian rider who has shown great determination and a level of riding to take on the world’s best. After my previous heat, I was fairly confident that I could go in and score some good waves. After a slow start, I had the ball rolling with a 6.25, backing it with a 6.65. Unfortunately for Mack, he only managed to get mid-range 5-point rides. This put me through to the quarter-finals to meet up with, for a second time in the competition, Alex Uranga.
As the quarter-finals started, conditions appeared to deteriorate further with the high tide making the waves fat and making it difficult to find the linking waves. I sat to the left of the contest area to start but seemed to drift right as Alex found a good peak and posted the best score of the heat. Alex had a 7.5 on his best wave and backed it up with a 5.75. Although posting a 6 and a 5, I could not match his riding and fell short at the end of the heat. A 5th place finish, and a satisfactory result.
I was able to watch Tristan Roberts walk away with a win in the event to bring the Viana trophy back to South Africa.
The event proved a valuable learning experience, opening my eyes to the vital role one’s mindset plays in the outcome of your events and on your riding. I seem to be able to learn more during every event in which I participate; taking something out of it, learning in order to improve.
It was awesome to see everyone achieving great things during the Viana event, riding in the tough conditions. It was great to be able to witness an amazing display from the Pro Junior division with some next-level riding from these boys. They put on a real display of bodyboarding and we are excited to see that the sport of bodyboarding is in good hands!
Thanks to everyone for the constant support, helping to contribute to a positive result in the event. Thank you to my family, friends and sponsors for always standing close and supporting me all the way.
All photos by: Tó Mané