Day 5 of the Antofagasta Bodyboard Festival was a day of upsets, close calls and challenging conditions. The temperature had dropped over night, with reports of significant snow in Santiago further south. Riders were also greeted by average conditions and a swell that was expected to build throughout the day.
The upset of the day came in Heat 6, when current ratings leader Jared Houston (RSA) was eliminated by young Brazilian trialist Joao Paulo (BRA). No one on the beach or watching online would have dreamed that this was possible, but Paulo (BRA) defied the odds to find the ramps and bowls to flip his way to victory. The disappointment was etched on Houston’s (RSA) face after the heat, putting a temporary dent in his world title campaign.
The close call of the day came in an explosive Heat 5 between Tristan Roberts (RSA) and Uri Valadao (BRA), which divided opinion online and at the competition site. Valadao (BRA) struck early and with a sting, launching a large flip to score an almost perfect score of 9.5. Roberts (RSA) was slow to respond, but when he did, he had many viewers convinced that his score would surpass that of Valadao (BRA).
Taking off on a smaller wave than Valadao’s (BRA), Roberts (RSA) drew a long, clean line from take-off to launch bowl, connecting with the lip and projecting far out into the flats to land a clean back flip. He wasn’t done there though, managing to drive back around the whitewash to launch another rollo on the outside, riding through to the shallow end section to be projected yet again into another rollo.
The judges took a considerable amount of time to reach a decision, giving the impression to many that it would indeed at least match or better the score of Valadao’s (BRA). The heat continued, with Valadao (BRA) finding low and average scoring waves while the judges obviously reflected on the scores already posted in the heat. After many minutes passed the scores dropped. Tristan Roberts (RSA) was awarded an 8.25 and needed another score to catch up to Valadao (BRA).
In the final 5 minutes of the heat, Roberts (RSA) did find the score, being awarded a 7.25 for another quality flip, but Valadao (BRA) found a clean ramp to launch an invert and put Roberts (RSA) out of reach, needing another perfect score that didn’t arrive.
Another close contest came in Heat 1 of Round 3 with Dave Hubbard (HAW) facing off against Chilean Pro Junior star Nelson Flores (CHI). With Hubbard (HAW) understanding that this contest would in no way be a walk through, he was decisive in his approach and maintained control of the heat from start to finish, beginning with a quality flip that scored 8 points. Flores (CHI) did get a chance to answer back late in the heat, but it was too late, seeing Flores (CHI) eliminated from the Main Event, and refocusing on the Pro Junior Final to be held later in the day.
Following the heat, Dave Hubbard (HAW) shared his thoughts on his performance:
“I just want to keep performing at the level that I am happy with. Dropping 8’s and other high scores is how I want to do it, so I will try to keep that up.”
The challenging conditions didn’t enable large scores to really be found in the majority of heats in Round 3, with the exception being Roberto Bruno (BRA) who managed to eliminate Australia’s Joshua Burguete-Kirkman with a heat score total of 16.75 for a strong rollo and then an invert, leaving Burguete-Kirkman (AUS) needing a combination of scores that was well out of his reach.
Heat scores and results from remaining heats were as follows:
Heat 1: Dave Hubbard (HAW) 1st (14.50) vs Nelson Flores (CHI) 2nd (13.50)
Heat 2: Maxime Castillo (FRA) 1st (14.75) vs Patrick Orr (HAW) 2nd (10)
Heat 3: Jacob Romero (HAW) 2nd (6.75) vs Brahim Iddouch (MAR) 1st (14.50)
Heat 4: Alan Munoz (CHI) 1st (13.85) vs Socrates Santana (BRA) 2nd (12.25)
Heat 5: Tristan Roberts (RSA) 2nd (15.50) vs Uri Valadao (BRA) 1st (16.50)
Heat 6: Jared Houston (RSA) 2nd (11.50) vs Joao Paulo (BRA) 1st (12.15)
Heat 7: Iain Campbell (RSA) 1st (12.50) vs Isaias Ravyc (BRA) 2nd (10.90)
Heat 8: Antonio Cardoso (POR) 2nd (11.25) vs Eder Luciano (BRA) 1st (13.75)
Heat 9: Dino Carmo (POR) 1st (11.25) vs Paul Blaz (AUS) 2nd (8.75)
Heat 10: Roberto Bruno (BRA) 1st (16.75) vs Joshua Burguete-Kirkman (AUS) 2nd (10.15)
Heat 11: Dudu Pedra (BRA) 1st (14.25) vs Miguel Rodriguez (PER) 2nd (11.75)
Heat 12: Alex Uranga (EUS) 1st (13.50) vs Kenny Jonson (CHI) 2nd (11.25)
After Round 3 was settled, it was straight into Round 4 non-elimination in building swell that was still offering challenging waves due to the building winds.
Dave Hubbard (HAW) struck early in Heat 1, Round 4 non-elimination finding a set wave and launching two solid rolls scoring a 7.5. He backed this up with a 6.75, which would have been enough to win in any other heat. High-flying Moroccan Brahim Iddough (MAR) was the spoiler though, finding set waves with large sections, launching flips and rollos, finishing the heat with a heat score total of 17.15. Maxime Castillo (FRA) did find an excellent score, but was unable to find a backup score to get in the race.
Uri Valadao (BRA) continued his good form, narrowly beating out Alan Munoz (CHI) and trialist Joao Paulo (BRA) with more aerial antics, finishing the heat with a combined heat score of 16.50.
A more sedate Heat 3 saw Iain Campbell (RSA) edge even closer to another high placing, beating Eder Luciano (BRA) and Dino Carmo (POR) who would have to surf again in Round 5 to grab a place in the Quarter Finals.
Alex Uranga (EUS) continued his winning form to jump to the Quarter Finals ahead of Brazilian duo Dudu Pedra (BRA) and Roberto Bruno (BRA) with an excellent score for an invert that was a refreshing change of maneuver choice in a day that was dominated by flips of all shapes and sizes.
With Main Event Round 5 and Quarter Finals decided, it was time to finish off the Pro Junior and Women’s Finals before the day’s end.
Pro Juniors were first up and there was really only one name on everyone’s lips from start to finish – Nelson ‘Nacho’ Flores of Chile. Flores (CHI) put in another great final performance to take the win and put himself further ahead of the pack in the world title race. Moises Silva of Chile did post some high scores to come within striking distance of Flores (CHI), but in the end Flores’ (CHI) strong opening ride and back up score was enough to remain ahead.
Final results were as follows:
1st Nelson Flores (14.25)
2nd Moises Silva (12.75)
3rd Eduardo Guzman (9.90)
4th Cristobal Fernandez (9.05)
With Pro Junior results settled, it was time for the Women’s Final to be decided, with Japanese superstar Ayaka Susuki (JPN) facing off against multiple world champion and legend of the sport Neymara Carvalho (BRA).
Neymara Carvalho (BRA) came out swinging, posting a few good rides early in the heat before Ayaka Susuki (JPN) could find a response. Powerful combinations of manoeuvres on the larger waves in the heat saw Carvalho (BRA) dominate from start to finish, leaving Ayaka Susuki (BRA) needing more, and waiting too long for the wave that would bring her back in contention.
In the end, experience trumped youthful exuberance and Neymara Carvalho (BRA) begun her campaign for another world title.
Finals tomorrow. Follow the webcast and see history being made.