Nazare Pro 2017
All hail Queen Joana of Portugal! – Day 5
Praia Do Norte, Nazaré Portugal, Thursday October 8, 2017
Perfect waves greeted Pro Juniors and the Women at Praia Do Norte this morning for what would be an epic day of competition for the history books. This was to be the day that the Portuguese would claim their first ever world title in bodyboarding, and Joana Schenker herself would claim her first ever title after many years of trying.
Consistent 3 – 4 foot waves marched towards the shore during the morning, with the low tide providing ample opportunities for the riders to put their skills to the test.
First in the water were the Pro Juniors, with current ratings leader Nelson Flores of Chile unable to deliver against in form Basque rider Txomin Lopes and Eddy Mangenot of France. In semi-final 2, Miguel Ferreira of Portugal and Menelik Nazir of the Canary Islands were too good for France’s Mathieu Aguirre and Pedro Veigas of Portugal.
In the Pro Junior final, it was all about Txomin Lopes from start to finish in the Pro Junior final. Taking a strong lead throughout the heat, the Basque rider never looked flustered, posting a heat score total of 15.50. The local favourite Miguel Ferreira of Portugal was unable to put Lopes under pressure, and was instead battling it out with the other riders for the remaining positions.
This result means that the decider of the Pro Junior world title will move to the Canary Islands in a little over a week, where it will be up to Nelson Flores to find the form he had in South America and seal victory. Only time and the waves will tell.
The Women’s Event was intense today. Many dominos needed to fall in order to see Joana Schenker take the crown. First of all, she needed to defeat her friend (and foe) Alexandra Rinder of the Canary Islands in a heat that in the end didn’t go her way. She would have to wait for either Rinder or Isabela Sousa to fall in later heats.
Ayaka Suzuki of Japan, who would eventually go on to win the event against her fellow Japanese rider Sari Ohara, was able to remove Rinder from the equation in a semi-final that was close. Suzuki finished with 13 point heat score total, with Rinder only finding the waves to score 10.25. It all came down to whether Sari Ohara of Japan could hand the world title to Schenker by defeating Isabela Sousa of Brazil. It was really all in the hands of Ohara, who was able to take control and have Sousa needing an excellent score to take the win. Ohara had priority in the dying minutes and shadowed Sousa as long as the judges would allow it, with the waves not showing up anyway for Sousa to get the score.
The seconds ticked down and elation swept across the beach, which was filled with fans of the new world champion.
A visibly relieved and emotional Schenker had this to say:
“I feel unbelievable. It was such a stressful ending to the title race. But everything turned out well. I was like, if it has to happen, it’s gonna happen, or not, so yeah. I have been competing for 15 years, it was a long time coming.”
On becoming Portugal’s first ever world champion, Schenker displayed the grace that she is already well-known for:
“To be Portugal’s first world champion, I am really happy and proud to bring it to Portugal. I think this country deserved it already for such a long time, so I am really happy to be the one that can deliver it.”
The competition rolled on, and Susuki was able to take the win and celebrate with her fellow Japanese rider Sari Ohara, but in the end, the fans only wanted to hear from their new queen and celebrate her success.
With the level of women’s competition, and the grace and style of those who are battling it out for the title, the sport is indeed in very good hands.
Competition is expected to resume with the crowning of another world champion on Wednesday or Thursday. Stay to Facebook for all updates and please share the live feed as well!
Pro Junior Final