Before first light could rise over the desert which seems to push the thin, populated stretch of communities along the Antofagastan coastline, the waves did look a little sick. A full moon was making the low tide almost transforming the reef of La Cupola into a mirror image of the desert which stares directly into it day in and day out.
But as the light peeped over the large dune-like hills, the swell seemed to be building, showing a clean 3 to 4 foot swell and perfect, light-offshore winds.
First in the water were the Quarter Finals of the Trials event, which would decide the final 8 riders to secure a coveted place in the Main Event. With such a prize on the line, it is often the case that the action in this round can surpass that of the first round of the Main Event (as it is a non-elimination round). The riders at this event didn’t disappoint.
Nelson Flores was by far the standout of these trials Quarter Finals, once again showed why he is the future of Chilean competitive bodyboarding, launching a huge flip in his crucial quarter final heat to secure his rightful place in the Main Event. Taking out this Quarter Final was made all the more impressive given the stacked heat that Flores (CL) was in, with David Barbosa (BR) finishing second, and Yoshua Toledo (CL) and Wilder Schultz (ZA) making up the rest of the heat.
Flores (CL) wasn’t done with success in the trials, backing up to put in another dominant performance in the Pro Juniors, progressing through to the Quarter Finals. Cristobal Fernandez (Easter Island) also put in a solid performance to progress to the Quarter Finals, as well as qualifying for the Mens Main Event too.
Trialists to qualify into the Main Event were:
Hermano Castro (Brazil)
Cristobal Fernandez (Easter Island)
Sebastian Krefft (Chile)
Isaias Ravyc (Brazil)
David Barbosa (Brazil)
Kenny Jonson (Chile)
Joao Paulo (Brazil)
Nelson Flores (Chile)
With the last group of riders entered into the Main Event draw, competition continued with Dave Hubbard (HA), PJ Tartak (PR) and Isaias Ravyc (BR) entering the water. This heat turned out to be one of the highest scoring of the event, with all riders posting exceptional scores.
Dave Hubbard (HA) was in commanding form early in the heat, tucking into a long barrel then exiting with a clean rollo, then throwing down a few spins in between, following it with a rollo on the shallow end section to add a little punctuation mark to his ride. An excellent score followed. He also managed to find a quality ramp to launch out of, landing a clean flip and finishing the heat with a total of 16,40. In any other situation this score would have ensured an easy progression through to round 3, but Brazilian trialist Isaias Ravyc (BR) had other ideas.
Ravyc (BR) was busy during the heat, finding a clean ramp to land a flip and follow up with a rollo on the inside ledge. Towards the end of the heat, Dave Hubbard (HA) was sitting with a commanding lead until the young Brazilian dropped into an inside ride and sat deep in a long tube that saw him exit into the channel. This was enough to edge past Dave Hubbard (HA) in the dying moments of the heat, putting Dubb’s (HA) plans of leapfrogging into Round 3 on ice.
Heat 2 was another close affair with Uri Valadao (BR) and Sacha Damjanic (CL) trading blows in a heat that was missing the third rider, Claudio Alquinta (CL) who was unable to compete due to personal reasons. Damjanic (CL) and Valadao (BR) traded flips throughout the heat, but it was Valadao (BR) who edged ahead in the dying moments.
Heat 3 was dominated Patrick Orr (HA) who found a deep tube and large flip to leave Diego Cabrera (ES) and Hermano Castro (BR) scratching their heads and searching for waves that would give them a chance to catch up to him.
Heat 4 was the Eder Luciano (BR) show, with the lofty Brazilian taking to the sky, landing flips on demand, and staying busy throughout the heat to maintain his position ahead of Dino Carmo (PT) and Sebastian Krefft (CL).
Heat 5 saw the ocean almost give up on the competition, with very few waves coming through for Dudu Pedra (BR), Antonio Cardoso (PT) and Joshua Burguete-Kirkman (AU).
With so few waves ridden in the heat, it came down to who was able to find the biggest of what was on offer. Dudu Pedra (BR) was the rider who managed to capitalize on the larger waves that come through, booking his spot into the 3rd round.
Heat 6 saw the swell reappear and 2015 World Champion Jared Houston (ZA) take to the sky. He didn’t win the heat without a challenge though, with David Barbosa (BR) showing just how dangerous he can be, finishing only 0.10 behind Houston. Santiago Sanchez (AG) finished in third.
Heat 7 was also a one-sided affair with in form South African Iain Campbell (ZA) dominating the heat with a variety of tricks for the judges to consider, including bakcflips, inverts and powerful reverse cutbacks on the cleaner faces. Paul Blaz (AU) and Joao Paulo (BR), like in other heats before where a seeded rider was dominant, were left wondering how they could get back into the heat and challenge for the top spot.
Heat 8 saw Moroccan wildcard Brahim Iddouch (MA) take to the air and keep South Africa’s Tristan Roberts (ZA) and France’s Maxime Castillo (FR) fighting for high enough scores to catch aerial expert. The most notable wave of this heat was Iddouch’s (MA) huge backflip on a set wave that saw him awarded an excellent score from the judges.
Heat 9 was another Nelson Flores (CL) show, with the young Chilean landing flips and rollos to jump ahead of Roberto Bruno (BR) and Miguel Rodriguez (PE) to jump into round 3.
Heat 10 saw Jacob Romero (HA) find the ramps he needed to stay ahead of the pack, with Nicolas Chiara (AG) and Kenny Jonson (CL) doing their best to try and match him in the air but falling short.
Heat 11 was a heat that will be remembered in the history books of bodyboarding. Alan Munoz (CL) managed to score a perfect 20 total heat score total to jump to round 3 in the best of styles. His two ten point rides were for a very big back flip on the outside peak that was easily the largest of the day, followed by a combination wave that included a large reverse air out of the bowl immediately followed by a back flip off the shallow ledge on the inside.
The Chilean was humbled by the response of the spectators on the beach and showed once again that he is a serious force to reckon with on this year’s APB Tour. Unfortunately for the other riders in the heat, Matias Dias (CL) and Gaston Rojas (CL), they never had a chance.
The final heat of the day saw a return to form for Basque superstar Alex Uranga (ESK) who, after a disappointing result in Arica, was eager to reassert himself as a contender for this year’s world title. It wasn’t an easy progression for Uranga (ESK) though, who had to dispatch of the Brazilian Socrates Santana (BR) and Easter Islander Cristobal Fernandez (CL) first. But, through sheer determination and some critical moves when it mattered, Uranga (ESK) was able to edge ahead and progress to round 33.
APB CEO Alex Leon was stoked with the day’s antics:
“It was great to see a few riders mix up their approach to the waves here today. It seems like the go to maneuver these days is a flip, but I must say it is getting a little monotonous. Hat’s off to Iain Campbell and Allan Munoz for going outside of the norm and putting on a show.”
“A special mention of Allan, with his amazing 20 point heat today. You don’t see that every day, and after his performance in Arica, you have to give him credit as being at the forefront of competitive bodyboarding these days.”
Competition will resume on the 13th of July, with either Round 2 of the Men’s Main Event kicking things off, or the second round of the women’s main event.
Stay tuned to APB social media to know when the live webcast will start.