IQUIQUE, CHILE (FRIDAY, June 29, 2019): CHILEANS DOMINATE THE FINAL DAY OF THE BELLAVISTA PRO. TRISTAN ROBERTS CONTINUES STRONG FORM BUT EXITS IN CONTROVERSIAL CIRCUMSTANCES. GET TO KNOW JOAQUIN SOTO.

The Bellavista Pro concluded today in conditions similar to how it all started – near perfect and very contestable 2 metre waves, both rights and lefts that were near perfect at Punta Dos.

THE CHILEANS DOMINATED ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP OF THE PODIUM

It was no secret that Chile was a super power hiding in plain sight, but at the Bellavista Pro, Iquique all was revealed – this long strip of Pacific coastline is about to take-over the world of bodyboarding…

While Tristan Roberts (SOUTH AFRICA), Sammy Morretino (HAWAII) and Maikol Pascal (CHILE) were certainly the standouts in the earlier rounds of competition, the final day saw them all fall short of the final, for varying reasons.

In the case of Maikol Pascal (CHILE), in the end, it was fellow Chilean Alan Munoz who ended his inspirational campaign. Certainly the local favourite, in the end, Munoz’s flips on the outside section of the reef was a stronger display for the judges. Sammy Morretino (HAWAII) had shown that he is world champion material throughout the event, but he was unable to stop the juggernaut that was Alan Irons Espinoza (CHILE). Morretino (HAWAII) seemed to have trouble adjusting to the more perfect conditions and Espinoza was in his element, seeing him overcome the in-form Hawaiian and advancing to the semi-finals, much to the delight of the local crowd. The exit of Tristan Roberts (SOUTH AFRICA) was a little more controversial and nuanced…

TRISTAN ROBERTS EXITS IN CONTROVERSY

Tristan Roberts (SOUTH AFRICA) was the best surfer in the entire Bellavista Pro event. He consistently posted the highest scores and seemed to be far more comfortable than the rest of the riders at the challenging Punta Dos. For example, in his quarter final match up with Gabriel Braga (BRAZIL) Roberts was devastating, putting Braga into a combination position early in the heat and simply not taking his foot off the accelerator the entire heat. Roberts posted a combined heat score total of 18.75 comfortably and was undisturbed as Braga attempted to fight his way gallantly back into the heat.

Coming into the semi-final against David Barbosa (BRAZIL) Roberts was certainly the favourite, and right from the beginning he made his intentions known, posting a perfect ten-point ride for two perfect barrels followed by a backflip on the shallow end section at Punta Dos. The heat continued a few minutes and then the interference took place that would change the course of the entire event and raise many questions with the online community.

Barbosa (BRAZIL) had priority and was sitting deep at Punta Dos when a split peak came through to both riders. Roberts made way towards the right-hand option (his preference during the event) while Barbosa lingered more towards the left-hand option (his preference during the event also). Roberts made the call to commit to the right, assuming that Barbosa was also committed to the left, but this was a mistake, with Barbosa choosing to take a gamble and hope to take the right-hander from a very deep take-off position. Roberts was already committed and himself, was unable to exit the tube. Barbosa barely made to the point where Roberts took the wave, but it was enough for the judges to deem it an interference.

In this circumstance, the APB Rule Book states the following:

Rule 5.5.06 The rider with first priority has ultimate wave possession on their chosen wave in either direction. The ride with second priority may surf the wave in the opposite direction as the first priority rider and providing the second priority rider does not hinder the first then the wave will be scored.

From Head Judge Chico Garritano:

“We decided to apply an interference on Tristan Roberts based on rule 5.05.06 of the APB Rule Book. David Barbosa had first priority and chose to use that priority to go right. Roberts interfered with Barbosa’s ability to ride that wave by taking off on that wave too. It was a clear drop-in by Roberts according to the rule book.”

ALAN MUNOZ CLAIMS VICTORY

The final of the Bellavista Pro started with both riders, Alan Munoz (CHILE) and David Barbosa (BRAZIL), finding strong scores in the early moments. Alan Munoz struck first, with a deep tube followed by a big invert for a 9.5. David Barbosa (BRAZIL) responded with a shorter tube, followed by a rollo on the outside section and finished with a backflip on the end section, earning him an 8.25. Within minutes, Barbosa (BRAZIL) was able to build with a decent backflip that saw him increase his combined score to 15.75, throwing the challenge to Alan Munoz to find a response. Munoz managed to find a backup score with a decent tube on the right hander, but it was not enough to see him get ahead Barbosa.

With the clock ticking down around 3 minutes remaining, Munoz found a deep tube on the left at Punta Dos and was awarded an 8.65 to see him get ahead and bound for victory. David Barbosa (BRAZIL) did finding a strong backflip in the dying seconds to try and build his score, but it was not enough. Alan Munoz claimed victory and Chile took a clean sweep of the Bellavista Pro.

GET TO KNOW JOAQUIN SOTO

There are moments in bodyboarding history when a young rider exceeds all expectations and delivers a performance worthy of the history books: a young Tamega made the Pipeline finals in his teens to rock the establishment at the time; Andre Botha again as a teenager took glory from a generation ahead of him too; and now Joaquin Soto (CHILE) showed that he is a force to be reckoned with, while snatching the Pro Junior win against his fellow countryman Lucus Vergara (CHILE). What makes his victory the more significant is that he took it while showing the riders in the Open Men’s that he means business too.

Watch out for this phenomenon in the years to come, but also in the next few events on the South American leg of the tour.

CHILE BEATS JAPAN IN THE WOMEN’S PRO DIVISION

A Japanese super heat kicked off the semi-finals of the Women’s Pro Division, with long-time rivals Ayaka Suzuki (JAPAN) and Sari Ohara (JAPAN) facing off at Punta Dos. The heat was quite even between the two women during the exchange, with the real difference being that Sari Ohara managed to find a larger wave with a clean section on the outside at Punta Dos and executed a clean rollo that was enough to separate the two in the eyes of the judges. This effort saw Suzuki eliminated from what was otherwise a very close heat.

In Semi-Final 2 of the Women’s division multiple world champion Isabela Sousa (BRAZIL) was on the receiving end of the biggest upset of the competition so far when Anais Velis (CHILE) surged ahead of Sousa after completing a solid rollo on the left at Punta Dos. This wave for Velis (CHILE) was enough to get ahead of Sousa, who only needed an average score of around 4-points to take back the lead. In the dying moments of the heat Sousa did have an opportunity to take back the lead but was unable to ride out of a rollo attempt on the shallow section of the right-hander. The Chilean crowd was ecstatic to hear the result, but they would have much more to celebrate later after the hooter would sound in the women’s final.

Sari Ohara (JAPAN) faced off against Anais Velis (CHILE) in near-perfect conditions that gave both riders ample opportunities to put on a show for the building crowd at Punta Dos. The final was very close for the majority of the exchange, with Ohara (JAPAN) focusing on the right-handers at Punta Dos while Velis (CHILE) chose to focus on the shorter lefthanders. Sari Ohara (JAPAN) lead for most of the final, holding a 6.5 and a 4.5 for a number of decent rides on the right-hander. Velis (CHILE) managed to turn the heat when she earned a 7-point ride in the final ten-minutes of the heat for two rollos completed on the left. She soon backed this up with a solid ARS on the left as well that earned her 8 points. This was enough to see Anais Velis (CHILE) upset the world title race in quite a significant way, while also providing her home country with plenty to cheer about.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Let’s not rush this – Iquique delivered and we need to appreciate the efforts to make this happen at all. A huge thank you from the APB to the municipality in Iquique for their support; the local riders at Punta Dos for sharing their wave; and the fans for joining us in this experience online – what a week for bodyboarding!

A huge thank you to everyone for making the Bellavista Pro an overwhelming success!

Next stop – the Antofagasta Bodyboard Festival – it is going to be huge!

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