Recap : Antofagasta Bodyboard Festival.
By Dan Dobbin.
Antofagasta: the “pearl of the north” in Chile. Adjacent to the Atacama desert, it’s a place so dry that in some areas rain has never been recorded. It also one of the richest areas in Chile, thanks in large part to the mining industry that rips copper out of the nearby Escondida dig site.
That explains the environmental vandals BHP being a major of the contest.
The Bodyboard Festival open mens finals day dawned with 4, occasionally 6 foot lefts and the offshore winds that consistently flow across the coast thanks to the cold Humboldt current that runs the length of the ocean on the Chilean west coast.
First up, technical issues…..
Major Wifi issues would plague the broadcast throughout the day. the commentators audio would drop out, the live scores disappeared from the feed, and we missed all of the first quarter between Manuel Cepeda and Alan Munoz. Manuel won apparently.
The broadcast resumed midway through quarter 2 with Tour leader Tristan Robers sitting on a high score of 8.25 up against a 6.25 for Dave Hubbard. I’ve got to admit, for a long time I was on the fence about the Dubb routine. There was an air of contrived individualism, a too deliberate need to be “different”, what in Aussie culture we might call a “try hard”.
He’s now one of this writer’s favourite riders. Dave truly looks at waves in a different way than the average booger, and the lines he draws and the manoeuvres he does are creative and unique. In this heat he’s staying busy under priority, hunting out the inside bowls. He pops a funky air reverse for a 5. He lofts an invert and then flows into a hybrid backflip / 180 half air reverse for a 6.9.
Tristan takes a set wave and does the same backflip that the judges seem to be so enamored with for a 7.5 and takes the win.
Quarter 3 has the French Phenom Pierre Louis Costes matching up against Chilean local Fabian Thaxar. After a few non descript waves are ridden, Fabian lands the first real blow with a solid roll followed up by a big flip on the inside bowl for an 8.5.
The forward air may be the hardest move to consistently do on a bodyboard, and only Pierre has managed to truly weaponise it during competition. Finding an inside bowl he lofts the move into the flats and finishes it up with a solid finger wagging claim as he pulls off. The judges pay it a 9.
Fabian tries to claw back the lead with two scrappy flips on his next wave, but behind him PLC pulls a solid flip and closes out the victory.
It’s another Pro vs local match up in quarter 4 as Tanner Mack takes on Sasha Damajanic. Tanner looks hungry, peppering his opening rides with combinations of rolls, flips and spins, racking up 6.25, 6.25 and a 7.25 on his opening waves.
Sasha doesn’t offer much in terms of resistance and a fired up Tanner advances.
Coming into Semi 1, there was the twinkling little thought in the back of the cortex that if Tristan made the final with the best four results model of the IBC tour he’d be hard to pip as world champion for 2022.
Things look to be going to script at the start of the heat as Tristan rolls out his backflips on back to back waves and the judges duly pay up with a 6.25 and a 6 to give the Saffa the lead.
He doesn’t have it all his own way however, as the local hero Manuel finds himself a nice tube for a 7 and then is perhaps high balled a 6.8 for an inside bowl flip and the heat lead.
There’s more than a little Kelley Hunt in the physical look and surfing of Manuel Cepeda. The constantly raised outside leg, the board slightly extended away from the body as he throws out whippy flips. The Antofagasta local is on the verge of upsetting the tour leader.
As the minutes click down, Tristan looks fucked, needing a score and not holding priority.
After Manuel takes a wave in the dying seconds the door is ajar for Roberts.
Catching one of the biggest waves of the day, he heaves a big heavy roll before being buried on landing and disappearing, before somehow emerging seconds later.
With the commentary continuing in Spanish and no live score icon, it’s difficult to know what is happening. Did Tristan get the score, or has the hometown hero caused a huge boil over?
Judging by Manuel smile as the camera pans in, he’s won!
Semi 2 between Pierre and Tanner is the best heat of the day.
Tanner looks hungry. Having had to withdraw from the Iquique contest finals through illness, he seems to want this win bad. He starts strong with an outside section roll and quality flip on the inside for an 8.
Pierre looks a little out of sync, failing on his first few waves to lock in a decent score.
Tanner reverses the order of operations from his first wave and ups the size scale with a big flip to round roll to post a 9.
Halfway through the heat Pierre comes to life. He hucks flip on a big wave for a 7.
He finds a nice barrel under priority for a 6.5.
Having broken out of being comboed, he goes for the jugular by once again turning to the air forward. Hitting a difficult thick crumbling lip on a set wave, he propels himself through the rotation. An above 9 wave surely. A 10 will give him the lead. The judges pay a 9.75, putting PLC only just behind Tanner.
On his next wave, Pierre gives it everything he has. After a solid flip on the outside section and a bonus inside roll, he tries to sell the judges on the score, claiming excitedly and gesticulating towards the beach.
It’s not enough.
With a minute and a half remaining he seems to admit defeat, catching a wave in.
As the cameras zoom in on him sitting on the rocks forlornly, the commentators speculate he may have reinjured a shoulder injury and been forced to shore. I just think he just knows he’s lost.
Everyone loves a good underdog story, and in Manuel Cepeda we got one. The local kid surfed his way from the early rounds to face off against a very hungry Tanner McDaniel. The kind of scenario you lay in bed and dream about as a grom. Defeat a Pro in the final of a contest at your local break. After Manuel gets an 9.25 on one of his first waves for a roll, tube, roll combo it seems that this dream might just become a reality.
Tanner first score for a decent flip comes in at 6. Advantage Manuel.
Tanner’s second wave consists of a flip on the outside section, straight into a barrel and a second flip on the end. Better than Manuel’s 9.25?
The judges don’t think so, going a flat 6 for the ride.
Manuel ratchets up the pressure with an outside section roll and an inside section flip for a 7.
Tanner then picks off a set wave and completes a big flip followed by a quick spinner for an 8.25.
As the heat clicks into the last 5 minutes, Manuel fails to land a big invert, while straight behind Tanner flairs out another big clean backflip with a sneaky foot dig turn around to post a second 8.25 and claim victory, stealing the fairytale finish from the hometown kid from Antofagasta.
Tanner almost falls of the back of the Jetski sled twice whilst celebrating. He’s $10,000 richer and has grabbed valuable 3500 tour points to move into second place behind Tristan Roberts.
Unfortunately, on land we don’t get to hear from Tanner about how he feels about the victory. The IBC strangely chooses to just play generic rock music over the footage of the presentation ceremony with Tanner and Manuel.
Next tour stop, Brazil…….