Jared Houston claims second APB World Title in winner-takes-all ‘Super Final’ against fellow South African and reigning world champion Iain Campbell
Jared Houston has claimed his second world title in a dramatic winner-takes-all ‘Super Final’ against fellow countryman, reigning world champion and good friend Iain Campbell.
Praia do Norte in Nazare provided the perfect canvas for the world title hopefuls in the final rounds of competition to draw their pathways to a potential world title. Only one would remain holding the golden cup high above their heads, with many scenarios possible as the sun rose on clean 4 to 6-foot conditions.
The swell was predicted to build throughout the day and organizers knew that time was not on their side. To counter the rising swell and tide, it was decided to hold four 4-man Quarter Finals
Following his historic victory Houston shared that competing had in fact taken a backseat this year as he began focusing more on work outside of the industry and dealing with changes in sponsorship.
“The last 3 years has been a rollercoaster for me, but this year it started to turn around. I got a new sponsor in Hubboards and they have helped me to keep bodyboarding this year. Also, Reeflex wetsuits has helped me so much these past few years too.”
“The world tour wasn’t my primary focus this year, but each time I competed I felt like I had momentum. I nearly wasn’t going to come here to Nazare, but my wife told me to go for it, and now I have another world title. I am still trying to process it.”
Houston needed to do nothing less than win the final of the Nazare Pro to bring on a ‘Super Heat’ with Iain Campbell. It was by no means assured. Houston first had to progress through a four-man heat with rising star from South Africa Tristan Roberts, Australian dynamo George Humphreys and Canary Island charger Diego Cabrera. Roberts eventually took out the heat in commanding form, but Houston was not far behind him in second place, assuring progression to the man-on-man quarter finals.
In his quarter final, Houston was up against previous multiple world champion Amaury Lavernhe of Reunion Island, who was definitely one of the more in form riders of the event. In this heat, the conditions didn’t really deliver for either rider, with Houston finding enough scoring potential to pass Lavernhe and book a spot in the semi-finals again facing off with South African Tristan Roberts. It was also in the quarter finals where world title contender Pierre Louis-Costes exited the race, eliminated by former world champion, the Brazilian Uri Valadao.
The remaining hurdle for Houston was the final of the Nazare Pro against Tanner McDaniel. All day McDaniel looked like he would be the man to beat. The young Hawaiian was in his best form, blasting reverses and flips in his heats to put everyone on notice that he is certainly one of the future champions of this sport.
In the final, the swell had built considerably, with both riders struggling against the freak set waves that increased their frequency at Praia do Norte. The swell was now approaching the ten-foot range and it was becoming increasingly difficult to find the right waves.
Houston opened the campaign with a long ride that finished with a clean reverse air. McDaniel struck back with a long barrel that ended in an incomplete reverse air that was slightly smaller. From this s
tarting point, the riders were in a cat-and-mouse game, incrementally building their scores, with many lead changes taking place. McDaniel looked like he had put the final nail in the coffin for Houston with a clean tube ride to rollo finish, seeing him jump into the lead.
The clock ticked down until with only 6 minutes spare, Houston stroked into a clean left-hander and kept a long, clean line and launching a lofty air reverse. It was clearly one of the standout moves of the event. It was awarded 10 points and with time against McDaniel, the final was taken by Houston, setting up the ‘Super Heat’ with Iain Campbell.
After being chaired up the beach to claim victory in the Nazare Pro, Houston had a brief 15 minutes to prepare for the Super Heat against Iain Campbell.
In the ‘Super Heat’, Campbell took the early lead, finding a clean pair of rides in the opening 10-minutes of the heat to secure him an above average score as a benchmark. Houston took a while to respond with a decent score himself, until around the 20-minute mark of the heat, when Houston launched another of his trademark air reverses to grab an 8.75
It was around the 17-minute mark of the Super Heat, when Houston assured
his eventual world title, tucking into a clean tube on the inside sand bank before launching another of his trademark air reverses to have a combined heat score total of 15.75. Campbell was left with a tough task of finding an almost perfect ride to get ahead. Despite reducing the margin in the final minutes of the heat, the 15.75 was enough for Houston to take his second world title.
A clearly shocked Houston could only heap praise on Campbell following the final:
“It was intense with Iain in that final today. Iain is the rider I respect the most out here today. He has really set the benchmark of competitive bodyboarding. And even just watching him progress over the past few years. You know, we have had the same results this year – two 3rd placings and a 1st. I just managed to pull it together there in that ‘Super Heat’.”
“I said to Iain after he was knocked out of competition that I was really going to do my best to win the title today, but if I failed, I really hoped it would be him instead of me. It was really bittersweet to compete against him, knowing how much work he has put into the tour this year.”
Houston has spent many of the past few years living outside from his native South Africa, building a family and a life on the island of Puerto Rico. When interviewed after his historic victory, he was qu
ick to thank all the fans in his home country of South Africa and gave a nod to the next generation of riders coming from there.
“South Africa is my home, it will always be first to me. I am so blessed to grow up there. It is a beautiful place with so much potential. South Africans have been on the podium of every event this year, and you can really say that it has cemented itself as a super power in bodyboarding right now.”
In claiming this world title, Houston joins the exclusive list of multiple world title holders in the sport of bodyboarding. His efforts in the water today in Nazare proved exactly why his membership in this exclusive club is a most deserving one.