Antofagasta Bodyboard Festival Day 3

As the morning light stretched out over the desert backdrop at Antofagasta’s premier wave for this year’s Bodyboard Festival, La Cupula, organisers were greeted by a slightly diminished swell in the 3 foot range with the odd larger set, but with favourable winds. This equated to contestable conditions and it was decided to proceed with a full day of Juniors and Women’s, putting on hold the Round 2 heats of the Men’s division for another day.

First in the water was the highly anticipated Women’s Round 2 heats, with seeded riders, Portugal’s Joanna Schenker (POR) and Japan’s Ayaka Susuki (JPN) taking on Chilean qualifiers Anais Velis (CHI) and Paloma Freyggang (CHI) in Heat 1. Susuki (JPN) did not waste any time in asserting her position as a fierce competitor who is driven to grab this year’s world title, finding strong scoring waves, completing larger rollos of the shallow reef bowls and bringing with her the form that saw her win the Itacoatiara Pro in Brazil only a few short weeks ago. Susuki (JPN) posted a total heat score of 14, leaving the remaining riders scrambling for the rides to see them avoid the sudden death repercharge round to follow.

Joanna Schenker (POR) has a rich competitive history, but was unable to tap into that talent and skill to come close to Susuki (JPN), finishing the heat in a disappointing and unexpected 4th place. Anais Velis (CHI) and Paloma Freyggang (CHI) finished second and third behind Susuki (JPN) respectively.

Heat 2 saw one of the undisputed superstars of women’s bodyboarding Isabela Sousa (BRA) putting on a dominant performance over Luz Marie Grand (PUR), Patricia Setubal (BRA) and Daniella Caqueo (CHI). Much like Susuki (JPN) in the previous heat, Sousa (BRA) was finding the larger set waves, taking control of them with clean spins and extended rollos, leaving the judges no choice but to award her the higher scores.

If the performances in heats 1 and 2 were exceptional, then Heat 3 featuring an in-form Alexandra Rinder (CNY) was simply dynamite. Once again, it seemed like in each heat this morning, there were only enough opportunities for one rider to dominate, leaving the others scratching for opportunities that would never earn the scores necessary. This was definitely the case again, with Rinder (CNY) posting a heat score total of 16.25, which was mostly due to the clean ARS she launched, after a long drawn out bottom turn, which is something that Head Judge Chico Garritano has been keen on rewarding this entire event.

The crowd were suitably impressed with the speed, projection and overall quality of the Air Roll Spin performed by Rinder (CNY) and the Live Webcast was inundated with comments of praise. All of this was achieved in the face of a powerful adversary in multiple World Champion Neymara Carvalho (BRA) who finished 4th behind Danicelly Vallejos (CHI) and Suy-yin Estay (CHI).

The final heat of Round 2 saw a much closer exchange between riders, with top-seed in the heat Sari Ohhara (JPN) doing enough to stay ahead of Valentina Diaz (CHI), Teresa Almeida (POR) and Macela Cataldo (CHI), relegating them to the sudden death repercharge round.

The next round of competition for the women was the repercharge round, and all riders knew that there were no second chances on offer for lack-lustre performances.

Joana Schenker (POR) and Paloma Freyggang (CHI) seemed to understand this well, both finding the scores they needed to progress ahead of Patricia Setubal (BRA) and Daniella Caqueo (CHI), while in repercharge Heat 2 Neymara Carvalho (BRA) and Suy-yin Estay (CHI) managed to stay marginally ahead of Macela Cataldo (CHI) and Teresa Almeida (POR) to secure places in Round 4.

The women were given a breather while the Pro Juniors were sent out to contest the still clean conditions for their Quarter Final heats.

Heat 1 saw Moises Silva (CHI) dominate the heat with strong scores for flips and rollos resulting in a 15.25 heat score total. Joaquim Soto (CHI) was able to find the best of what was left to progress through to the Semi-Final, seeing Igor de Almeida (BRA) and Iago Nascimento (BRA) exiting the competition.

Heat 2 was an unexpected nail-biter, with star performer and future world title hopeful Nelson Flores (CHI) nearly exiting early from the Pro Junior event at the hands of Yerko Gonzalez (CHI) and Menelik Nazir (CHI) who were sitting in first and second position respectively as the clock entered the final minute of the heat. Flores (CHI) had already progressed to Round 3 in the Main Event, so this loss would not have seen him completely out of competition in Antofagasta, but precious Pro Junior World Championship points were on the line and you could see that he was becoming concerned for that.

With only 20 seconds remaining in the heat, a calm and collected Flores (CHI) stroked into a smaller wave breaking further down from the main peak. Needing a 4.5 to progress into second position, he decisively executed a clean rollo followed by a carving reverse, then finishing off on the shallow end section with another clean rollo. He rode the wave to the shore, assured that he had done enough. The judges agreed, and booked him a place in the Semi-Finals. It is performances in critical moments like these that make most agree that he has the ingredients for a Chilean World Champion.

Heat 3 was a close affair for all riders, with Luan Tavares (BRA) finding the win ahead of Eduardo Guzman (Antofagasta) in second, and Jordan Villalba (CHI) and Kevin Berrios (CHI) exiting competition. This win by Tavares (BRA) assured that the Semi-Finals would not become an all Chilean affair.

Heat 4 was a very low scoring heat with Cristobal Fernandez from Easter Island (CHI) staying ahead, and in the Pro Junior World Title race, progressing through to the Semi-Final with Pedro Lopez (CHI).

With Pro Juniors out of the way, it was back into the Pro Women, with Ayaka Susuki (JPN) picking up where she left off, progressing through to the Quarter Finals along with Luz Marie Grand (PUR) seeing one of the favourites, Joanna Schenker (POR) eliminated from the event.

Heat 2 of Round 4 saw a surprise winner, with young Chilean rider Anais Velis (CHI) besting Isabela Sousa (BRA) and Paloma Freyggang (CHI) to progress. It was a narrow escape for Sousa (BRA) as Freyggang (CHI) was relentless in her pursuit of a lower scoring ride to advance in second place. Lucky for Sousa (BRA) the clock won that particular competition.

Heat 3 saw more dominance from Alexandra Rinder (CNY) but this time with Neymara Carvalho (BRA) finding form and progressing only 2 points behind her. This saw the end of Valentina Diaz’s (CHI) campaign for this year.

Heat 4 saw Japanese rider Sari Ohhara (JPN) continue her consistent form with clean spins and rolls to progress, along with Suy-yin Estay (CHI) close behind in second place. Danicelly Vallejos (CHI) exited the event and the competition moved on to the one-on-one Quarter Finals.

Given Ayaka Susuki’s (JPN) recent form, as seen on Instagram, it may not be fair to call her win over Isabela Sousa (BRA) to progress to the Semi-Final an upset, but given Sousa’s (BRA) rich competitive history it may seem still fair to say. Either way, a close battle between the two riders, so Susuki (JPN) narrowly progress ahead of Sousa (BRA) by 0.5 of a point.

An ecstatic Anais Velis (CHI) then celebrated a more commanding victory over Luz Marie Grand (PUR) to progress, with Luz Marie Grand (PUR) simply unable to find the waves in the rapidly deteriorating conditions.

Alexandra Rinder (CNY) stayed true to form and dispatched of Suy-yin Estay (CHI) in what was a closer heat than usual, and in the final heat of the Quarter Finals, Neymara Carvalho (BRA) showed increasingly good form to post her highest heat total of the day and end the run of Japan’s Sari Ohhara (JPN). With Carvalho (BRA) heating up each heat she surfs, her Quarter Final rematch against Alexandra Rinder (CNY) is set to be a show stopper.

Competition is set to resume on the 14th of July, with Round 2 of the Men’s Main Event kicking things off in what should be a steadily increasing swell throughout the day.

Stay tuned to APB social media to know when the live webcast will start.

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