The 22nd edition of the Sintra Portugal Pro will take place in only a few short days in Praia Grande, Sintra. The 12th until 17th of September will be a pivotal week for riders vying for precious world championship points and may prove critical for the world title hopes of many riders in contention. Not known for producing world-class waves like those found in Tahiti, Hawaii and Chile, the Sintra Pro does deliver from time to time, with last year’s event turning on. What the Sintra Pro may lack in wave quality, it makes up in passion for bodyboarding and reliability of sponsorship for the event.
Many of the top riders will be watching swell forecasts closely to see what mother nature will deliver, and by the looks of many long-range forecasts available, the waves should be consistent throughout the entire week of competition.
On the question of the Men’s World Title race. While it is too early to be calling clear favourites, you can begin talking about those within striking distance.
Iain Campbell is sitting just ahead of his South African countryman Jared Houston, who is trailing Campbell by just over 1100 points. Campbell leads with 11300 points to Houston’s 10190, with Alex Uranga of the Basque Country on 9200 in 3rd and Hawaii’s Dave Hubbard on 8720 in 4th.
With only two remaining star events on the tour, the points won or lost in Sintra or Viana may very well be the critical difference, as points from the best 2 events will be counted towards the world rankings. What is astonishing about Campbell’s lead in general is that he is currently only counting a single 4 Star result to his total (2nd place in Antofagasta), whereas Houston is counting a win at Tahiti and a 13th from Antofagasta.
Iain Campbell has taken a clinical approach to his competitive riding this year, surrounding himself with sports scientists and trainers when he is home, as well as loved ones, who have provided an important support and motivating force for him:
“I have been making sure that in the downtime between the South American legs and European legs of the tour I have been training and enjoying life in equal measure.
Regarding the training. I have been working with the team at Le Roux & Nel Biokinetics and they have been great. We have been focusing a lot on strength and resistance training and getting my thinking right as the finish line gets nearer.
Last year, I let the pressure really build up and it didn’t help. This year is different.
The downtime between tour legs has also given me valuable time to spend with my partner Rosie. She has been such a big factor in my success and enjoying time with her has been great these past couple of months.
I have also been working on a bit of an ‘out of the box’ video project called ‘Chasing the Southern Sun’ the last few months, and we managed to get some great content done during my time back in South Africa.
I am feeling relaxed but focused coming into this last leg, that’s for sure.”
What this means is that Campbell is sitting in a commanding position, with Houston needing to better a 13th in the remaining Star events to add to his total. Campbell on the other hand needs to better the points he gained by finishing 2nd in Pipe (1600 points) and add another event to see his lead most likely increase. With solid Grand Slam results already in the bag, it is going to be hard for other riders to catch him.
But do not write off last year’s World Champion Pierre Louis Costes, who will only build on his points in every event he practically enters due to him only having completed 2 events this year (due to him becoming a father), and already having a 7th from Pipe and grabbing a win in Arica. We all know what PLC is capable of, so discount him from the race at your peril.
3rd place on the World Rankings is Basque superstar Alex Uranga. Following a performance in South America that was uncharacteristic, Uranga turned it on for some great results in the ETB over the summer, and is leading the tour rankings as it heads towards a final event in the Basque Country scheduled for November in Zumaia. Alex is an astute competitor and a real contender for this year’s title.
“In South America, I really didn’t surf the way I know I can. I don’t know what was up, but I know I can do better.
I was very happy with the results on the ETB and think that Europe will be a stronger part of the tour for me. But I will just focus on each heat, and not think of the bigger result.”
Competition will start on Tuesday in Sintra with swell expected for the entire period of the event. Tune into the live webcast for all the action!