Arica Finals Day Fires!
By Dan Dobbin.
Professional level bodyboarding has by and large been missing from the sports landscape for nigh on three years now.
The International Bodyboarding Corporation (IBC), a collective of promoters and event organisers, was all set to launch their world tour format at the beginning of 2020 until, well you know what happened…..
Fast forward to the here and now and finally the world tour has kicked off in spectacular style with an epic competition from the reef of ” El Floppo” in Arica, Chile.
The contest was blessed with a consistent run of swell from beginning to end, never really dropping below 6ft over the marathon 8 rounds it took to decide the finalists.
Finals day dawned with pumping 6ft plus sets, offshore breezes and stacked man on man quarter final heats.
Quarter 1 started with Tanner McDaniel taking on Alan Munoz. The swell seemed slow for the first heat of the day.
Tanner opened up with a mid sized left, fitting in a nice barrel, tight spinner in the pocket and then clocking off with a tidy flip which drew a 7.5 from the judges.
Conversely, Alan’s highest score was a solid right that he banged a reasonable, if not largely unremarkable, invert air off the close out section for a 6.5.
After an exchange of non scoring waves and missed opportunities, Tanner used priority to milk a 5.5 from an inside barrel to roll.
Needing only a 6.5 to take the heat Alan inexplicably paddled for a close out right before pulling back and handing priority over to Tanner who closed out the heat with a higher back up score from a well threaded left barrel.
Quarter two featured 2019 carry over world champion Tristan Roberts from South Africa up against unknown Yon Aimar from France.
Tristan’s first wave was where the judging wheels started to develop a wobble that only got more and more pronounced as the day progressed.
The Saffa hucked a fairly standard backflip through the lip of a foamy right hander, the flip neither overly large or overly clean in its execution. Probably a high 5 / low 6 area one would expect. The judges however saw things differently, dropping an 8.
The Infoamed group chat lit up with disbelief.
Yon opened his account seconds later with a full rotation air reverse that given what the judges had just awarded Tristan’s flip would have had to have gone into the high 9’s if completed. Unfortunately he seemed to get blasted off his board by the wash after landing facing the beach.
From this point on Yon couldn’t get his campaign back on track and floundered for the rest of the heat.
Tristan’s second wave was a rinse and repeat of his first, just with a cleaner and higher flip. Above an 8 on this scale? Nope, a head scratching 6.5.
Tristan was then awarded a 9 for a mid size left where he threaded a deep spitting pit on his very next wave. A solid score, but a 9? The wobble wobbled some more.
Robert’s next left was a full 2ft bigger and featured two blow outs as he locked into a reasonable sized barrel from start to finish. Having backed themselves into a corner by overcooking the scale, the judging panel awarded the first 10 of what might be argued too many 10’s as the day progressed, but more on that later.
Twelve minutes to go and poor Yon was comboed with a 10 and a 9 while holding down a 3 and 1.5 of his own. Game over.
Quarter 3 saw the forty seven, yes forty seven year old Jeff Hubbard up against Frenchman Maxime Castillo.
Maxime’s 1st wave was bigger, thicker and deeper than either of Tristan’s 9 or 10 scores from the previous heat. The wobble produced a score of 9.25. The Infoamed brains trust began to question reality.
Jeff had a definite strategy to target the rights at the start of the heat, but couldn’t find the right ramp for a patented Hubb launch.
Max missed an opportunity, falling at the end of a barrel to flip on the left that would have gone high 8’s, garnering him a 4 instead.
Hubb tracked a left barrel for a 7.25 to get out of combo land and get back in the fight.
Hubb then made a priority error, again trying to sniff out a right ramp, placing the Maxime’s fate into his own hands, however the Frenchman just couldn’t seem to find the dagger to finish things, leaving the door open for some late heat Hubb heroics.
After a judging wobble somehow came up with a 7 for an unmade barrel, Hubbard had one more chance to snatch victory with a looping flip on an inside left bowl. Shelling peas for Hubb one would assume, however the three time world champ bogged a rail on landing, handing Maxime a Semi final showdown with the winner of the last quarter.
While commenter Bego Martinez was reading Hubb’s obituary saying ” Back in the day, Jeff would not have missed that” it’s important to acknowledge he’s a man nearing his fifth decade, has competed for over thirty years and is one of probably only five guys truly in the mix to be world champion this year. Extraordinary.
Quarter 4 seemed like it might be almost over as soon as it began with Amaury Lavernhe a awarded the second 10 of the comp on the very first wave of the heat again Matias Diaz.
Moz then went nuts, dropping a second score 5.5 for a flip to roll, then an 8.25 after a huge invert out of the left bowl, bettered again by an even bigger invert punt moments later for a 9.25.
Then the Diaz fight back began. The Infoamed people’s champion clawed himself a 9.4 for a spitting pit to air forward that had the whole squad cheering.
Needing a 9.86 Matias’s chance came with 8 minutes to go. Under priority he launched a full rotation air forward out of a bowl. On any other day probably not the score, but factoring in today’s judging wobbles, who knows?
Still Moz’s form was almost undeniable, and he moved on to face Maxine in Semi 2.
Semi 1 might have been the most anticipated match up of the comp with the two young titans of the sport, Tanner vs Tristan going head to head.
Again the judges seemed infatuated with the Roberts backflip, going to the Octo 8 for a left flip, before Tristan moved over to hunt the rights.
He hucked a huge backflip attempt that would have to have gone top scale if completed, and then followed it up with looping forward air for another 8.
Unfortunately for Tanner who was hunting the lefts, the epic pits from the previous heats never showed up. He was brave in defeat, working hard to manufacture a 6.65 for a flip to spin and a valient barrel to air reverse attempt that didn’t come off.
In the last minute, needing a 9.25, finally a speedy ramp appeared for Micky D and he gave it all he had with a projected invert, but it wasn’t enough.
Tristan through to the final.
Semi 2 was an all French affair and once again Amaury locked in a 10 point ride in the first minute of the heat.
Maxime’s first barrel on the left netted him a 6.75, before Moz ramped up the pressure with a second score of 7.25 with a spin in, flip out combo. Tech and tidy.
A barrel to roll for an 8.5 put Max in striking distance, but Moz answered back almost immediately with better barrel, a flip out followed by roll for 8.9.
Book in an Amaury vs Tristan final.
Unbelievably, for the third heat in a row Moz opened his scoring account with another 10 point ride, this one undeniable given the context of the scores that had preceded it.
We pause here to reflect on Tristan’s opening 10 in his quarter final to contrasted it with Amaury’s 10 in the final, and why the judging needs a spotlight shined on it moving forward.
Nobody is denying that the waves ridden weren’t epic, that the riders were not operating at the highest level of bodyboarding during finals day, or that the two best riders of the contest didn’t meet in the final.
The issue is that by to going so high with scores so early, both in individual heats and overall, the judges left themselves no where to go once the performance bar was raised and raised again as the contest progressed.
Moz’s last 10 in the final was a good 2 to 3 points better than Tristan’s quarters 10, yet both received a perfect score, despite not being equal. That’s a problem.
Anyway we digress…… Returning to the action……
Tristan blasts a huge invert attempt on a heavy right, flames blazing from his board as he falls, but is buried in an avalanche of white water.
As Tristan fails to nail a spin into the barrel on his next right, Amaury almost nails the contest win closed with a deep barrel to roll on a 9.
With his back against the wall Tristan once again goes to the rights with a lofty air reverse attempt that once again would have been a huge score, but falls incomplete.
As he emerged from the whitewater Moz is taking off on another long looking left. He’s traveling, he’s traveling, he’s backdooring sections……, it’s better than his first wave of the heat, so another 10!
In the last 5 minutes Tristan is able to thread an inside tube and add another barrel to backflip for a 7.75 and a 9.9 respectively to make the final seem closer than it was, but make no mistake, this was a master class by Amaury.