Nazaré Pro 2017
Title: Iain Campbell – The World Champion
Thursday October 12, 2017
Iain Campbell is the undisputed champion of the world, but Antonio Cardoso is the new king of Nazaré.
World championship titles are rare gems that only a few hold in the palm of their hand. In bodyboarding, given the dominance of a handful of riders throughout the history of the sport, such a jewel is an even rarer find. Iain Campbell is now the rightful owner of such a prized possession and he claimed it in the same form and style that characterised his entire year on the APB World Tour – he overwhelmed his adversary to take it.
The final day of competition started out rather lethargically. Organizer’s knew that swell was in the vicinity of Praia Do Norte, but the tide was doing its best to obscure it from sight. Twice the contest was put on standby, and the anxiousness of the contending riders was palpable. Eventually the call was made and competition kicked off.
Jared Houston and Diego Cabrera were first in the water to battle it out. Houston looking to make the podium of a Grand Slam for the first time this year, and Cabrera looking to keep his world title dream alive for another round. The waves were begining to show the form and shape that had become expected of Nazaré, and both riders found opportunities to advance. But it was Cabrera, with his aggressive approach to the waves, who exited the water the winner.
The next heat saw Iain Campbell step up and compete against a frequent adversary this competitive season in Uri Valadao. The action from start to finish of this heat was either way. One rider launching a flip and gaining an edge only to have the other respond and take back control. Ultimately though, it was a typical Campbell air reverse that stole the show, leaving Uri Valadao without a chance to fight back.
Jacob Romero and Alan Munoz then entered the water, with Romero hoping to surpass 5th place in a Grand Slam this year (he seems to be getting a few of them) and Munoz looking to find his second podium of the year. This heat simply came down to the fact that Munoz grabbed the better waves early in the heat (a solid reverse, then invert, and sealing the deal with a large flip), leaving Romero wanting.
It was in the final quarter final matchup of the day that would see the world title race change focus entirely, with last year’s champion Pierre Louis Costes faltering. It was a powerful display by Antonio Cardoso, who had a distinct hometown advantage, that put PLC’s world title hopes in peril. The local rider found all the right waves, and launched all the right moves to dominate the heat from start to finish.
With the elimination of PLC ,the opportunity was presented for Campbell to take the title. The only person standing in his way was the other remaining contender in the race, Diego Cabrera.
Campbell was relaxed and calm as he entered the water and commenced this memorable heat for the ages. His first ride was a lofty rollo that was almost as high and extended as its inventor’s wingspan, Pat Caldwell. A strong score posted early, but with Diego Cabrera grabbing a back-up score to his own, smaller air roll earlier, Campbell was in second place for a almost half of the heat. This would change when Campbell found a beautiful ramp on a right-hander, launching a large backflip that had his support crew and squad on their feet and cheering.
The remainder of the heat was slow, with Campbell scratching onto some smaller rides that didn’t build on his heat score total, but which may have been more to calm his nerves as the clock counted down towards his victory.
Cabrera did have a chance late in the heat to take back the lead, but was unable to make most of the large peak take-off to barrel, which saw him hit the final end section on not complete the move he needed.
It was only once there was literally 30 seconds remaining that it was possible for everyone, including Iain to accept that victory was his.
Elation is an understatement. So too is humility and respect in this moment for Iain Campbell. Following the usual claims, embraces amongst mates and peers, and subsequent chair up the beach, Campbell was quick to find his partner Rosie in the crowd and share the moment of his victory in a private embrace that was touching, and a true testament to his character and grace as competitor and man.
For a moment, the beach had almost forgotten that another semi-final was in progress, such was the emotion and significance of this moment for many. In the water, local here Antonio Cardoso was continuing his march to the final and ultimate victory, putting in a searing performance yet again to dispatch of Alan Munoz.
So there it was, a new world champion would seek to take total victory in Portugal (Campbell had already won in Sintra and Viana) against a local with the talent and support to stage an upset. And Diego Cabrera would seek redemption against Alan Munoz in the podium final.
The podium final was a distinctly one-sided affair, with Munoz taking control and defeating Cabrera by a significant margin. The main final was a different story, with Iain Campbell showing signs early in the heat that he would in fact write the fairy tale ending many of his supporters on the beach desired.
Campbell had found some great sections early in the heat and with his usual clinical approach, made the most of them to gain the scores he needed to have a narrow yet comfortable control over the heat. It was not until the dying stages that Cardoso really came back into it, finding the scores he needed to steal the lead in the dying minutes. With the clock now ticking against Campbell, his urgency came back but he couldn’t find the score. Cardoso and his supporters were suitably elated with this result, seeing another Portuguese rider steal the show at Praia Do Norte for the second time during the event waiting period.
Iain Campbell was relaxed and comfortable as he exited the water. Of course, it would have been nice to grab a victory, but he was satisfied and quick to congratulate Cardoso on his historic victory for the local contingent in Praia Do Norte. Such graciousness in defeat is universally accepted as a quality of a true champion. It looks like Iain Campbell’s newly acquired status is well suited to this champion’s approach.
A huge thank you must go out to the local community and municipality for all of their support in making this event the success it was this year. The waves turned on, and the local vibe and good cheer was exceptional.
Bodyboarding needs locations like these on tour, not only because they have the best waves on the planet, but because the people with whom the riders meet and interact with are so damn special and singularly welcoming.
Thank you to everyone in Nazaré and Praia Do Norte for your hospitality (and Pastel De Natas). See you all next year!