IBC World Tour Event 2: Iquique, Chile

Dan Dobbin picture
Dan Dobbin (dandob)
Form Guide

Well, with no time to breathe, it’s straight onto the second event on the IBC world tour, three and a bit hours south of Arica to Iquique.

Sitting on the edge of the Atacama desert, Iquique is a popular holiday destination because of the tax-free status of its port area. The raw swells of the eastern Pacific break onto jagged volcanic rock shelves, which explains the slightly raggedy formation of the waves in the area.

While sedimentary rock shelves weather flat and smooth, creating a more uniform wave shape, volcanic rock deposits have a tendency to break off in uneven chunks, making the waves that break on them unpredicatable and shifty.

Finals day of the contest dawned with a cold, foggy looking morning and generally three foot surf with the occasional bigger set wave. While the wave had offered split peak options during the earlier days of the contest, today was clearly a day for the right-handers, which were much longer and offered more scoring potential.

While the first bowl of the right-hander looked inviting to hit, often it was a trap. Riders would huck themselves into a flip into the flats, only to find themselves being tripped up by the flat spots and wobbles created by the uneven reef below. Navigating the barrel was a similarly treacherous affair as the guts appeared to simply fall out from under riders as they threaded the tunnels.

Quarter-Final 1 saw 2008 world champion Uri Valadao match up against Alan Munoz. To be honest, this was a bit of a fizzer of a heat. Uri continually went for his trademarked headflick flip, but couldn’t land the killer blow. He just had one of those heats where nothing worked. Alan did enough with two bog-standard flips off the end section to progress.

Alan Munoz (Cristóbal Sciaraffia)

QF 2 and Tristan Roberts was a man with a plan, a plan that he stuck to thoughout the semis and into the final. If the wave shortened up with no meat down the line on the first bowl, throw a flip. If it was a longer wall, roll on the outside and hunt a second roll or flip on the end section.

His opponent, local Jaoquin Soto, was brave, flipping for a 6.5 as his highest score, but was unable to navigate two wobbling barrels that would've given him a the win if completed. Tristan locked in an overscored 7 for a roll and a 6.4 for a flip to march into the semis.

Due to the illness withdrawal of Tanner McDaniel, Canary islands ripper Lionel Medina got to hear the two sweetest words in the English language, "de fault”, and progressed into the second semi.

QF 4 was arguably the most exciting heat of the day between Cristian Tapia and Iain Campbell from South Africa. For the bulk of the heat Cristian was in the box seat, comboing Iain with a 6.25 and a 5.9 for standard rolls and flips while Iain couldn’t get anything going.

Cristian Tapia (Cristóbal Sciaraffia)

With the heat winding down, Iain engaged squirell grip to hang on through a heavy landing backflip on an inside wave under priority for a 7, giving him a shot.

Then, with just over a minute remaining, Cristian used his priority to thread a barrel and finish with a flip on the end section that up to that point was the best wave of the heat and looked sure to close out precedings. Cue the camera panning into the lineup just as Iain backdoors a barrel, rolls off the lip, falls straight into a backdoor section, and finishes with another roll out.

Cristian’s last wave scores a 7.1, while Iain’s comes in at 7.65 and the South African steals the win.

Iain Campbell (Cristóbal Sciaraffia)

The man with a plan, T-Rob, stuck to what worked for the first half of the heat of his semi against Alan Munoz. First wave: foamy flip, foamy flip, for a 5.5. Second wave: flip followed by a roll for a 6.5.

Meanwhile, Munoz’s best wave was a decent barrel to flip on the end bowl for 6.9 that came halfway through the heat. Perhaps feeling the pressure, Tristan briefly went barrel hunting, but couldn’t exit a tunnel on his next three waves.

With four minutes to go, Alan uses priority to go a wave that simply closes out in front of him, handing Tristan a chance for victory. He doesn’t miss, hucking two flips on his next wave for a 9 and the heat win.

Before we continue, let us examine the Robert’s right-hand roll. Throughout finals day it looked…weird…forced…flat...the board tucked in tight to the body…the head rotating ahead of the body. It did not look fluid.

Lionel Medina had been earmarked as the dark horse for the event days ago. He opens Semi 2 with a decent flip to give him an early 6.25 lead over Iain Campbell.

Lionel Medina (Cristóbal Sciaraffia)

Iain goes tube hunting, but like Tristan in the heat before him, initially finds exiting the tube difficult until he strikes gold with an in and out to roll 7. He backs it up it with a barrel to flip for a 5 next wave.

After dropping the ball on an in and out roll combo of his own, Lionel goes back to the air, banging out a hanging roll for a 6 and the heat lead. Iain looks close to backing up his quarter final last minute win when he locks in a roll, tuck tube, and roll combo, but the judges only pay it a high 4, not enough for the win.

A Medina vs Roberts final it is.

Lionel opens strong with a nice flip for a 7 before failing to navigate an inside tube. Behind him Tristan takes a set wave and launches…yeah, a flip…followed by a funky roll that he fails to land. The judges throw a 9.5 at it. For a single flip and an incomplete roll…

In the commentary booth former professional rider Fabio Aquina explains: “The reason it is a 9.5 is because he didn’t use any legs to complete that manouvre”.

I’m sorry, what? How long has that been a thing? Is he just spitballing? Was Tristan’s wave a whole two and a half points better than Lionel’s simply because he didn’t use his legs to help complete the the rotation of the flip? Your author thinks no.

Lionel then air drops into a spitting insider that he navigates and cleanly rolls out off for a 7 and the heat lead. Tristan then edges back into the lead with a single standard roll out of the bowl that the judges incredibly award as a 6.4. Your humble writer was thinking a 4 at best.

Tristan Roberts (Cristóbal Sciaraffia)

Medina’s next wave looks like the best of the heat. A clean flip followed up with a solid round roll and a secondary roll as the wave finishes. An 8 apparently.

Now it’s the lowest of low hanging fruit to shine the spotlight on match officials to generate interest or controversy, but that said, what happened next needs a spotlight shone on it.

Tristan pulls into a barrel on a set wave. It’s neither especially thick or especially long, a quick in and out that granted does spit heavily. He check turns flat before flopping one of those weird rolls mentioned previously. Your writer thinks high 7’s.

The judges give it a perfect score.

Make no mistake, this was not a 10. A 10 is a perfectly ridden wave that makes you gasp out loud. A 10 is a wave that the judges are saying could not be faulted or bettered.

This was neither of those things.

Now please, dear reader, do not take this as a slight on Tristan or the judges personally. This is a conversation about processes and expectations on an observational level. If the scale is dropped a few pegs and Tristan’s wave comes out as an 8, no one would be talking about it.

However, beginning in Arica and continuing into Iquique, there have been rumblings around the scores being awarded from both the layperson and more seasoned campaigners. We’re talking about the best competitive riders in the world, and to posit that a wave like Tristan’s was the highest level of riding they are capable of producing is just not reality.

The IBC world tour has made a strong start with an epic contest at Arica and a watchable one at Iquique. We’re in, we’re interested. However, without some clarity around the lingering questions about judging scale, it risks squandering the good will it has so far achieved with bodyboarders world wide.

Let’s see what the next stop at Antofagasta brings…



Rabbits68's picture
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Rabbits68 Tuesday, 31 May 2022 at 12:20pm

Cheers Dan.

I’m surprised the backflip (if it’s called that) has seemingly become the go-to air manoeuvre in bodyboarding. I assume it’s due to its scoring potential. It appears to lack function, severely restricting flow on the landing in most cases & must cause some serious back injuries let alone regularly creasing the board.

Give me a critical, clean, well executed el rollo any day :-)

Air forward/reverse’s also look pretty epic when done well…

billie's picture
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billie Tuesday, 31 May 2022 at 1:14pm

I concur. I always considered the ARS so much more functional. When the backflip becomes an inverted air reverse it seems to flow better.

yvdreh's picture
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yvdreh Wednesday, 1 Jun 2022 at 5:54am

The ARS went out of vogue a few years ago after a few pro's decided that they were an 'ugly' move.

gingeryeti's picture
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gingeryeti Friday, 3 Jun 2022 at 2:08pm

It depends if you complete the rotation in the air or spin into smooth landing. Or flap around backwards stupidly in the wash.

frog's picture
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frog Tuesday, 31 May 2022 at 2:29pm

The backflip thingo looks crap and probably feels crap (head spinning plus a jarring body smack into the trough). How it ever became a thing I often wonder.

Contest judging is part of it.

The other reason is that body boarding is lacking that surfing joy of truly carving water out on the face (g force acceleration) due to the soft rails and leg drag. So you have all that speed and what do you do once you leave the barrel? Carve? Nup - doesn't really work - more of a bog stall as soft board and legs act as brakes.

So they habitually spin, roll or somersault as soon as an open face beckons as we watch and wonder why....

Bodyboards are great in tubes and fun for play but I suspect the photos above are more tombstones symbolising the death throes of bodyboarding than state of the art progression.

.... except for the last one - nice tube, great positioning.

dandob's picture
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dandob Tuesday, 31 May 2022 at 7:40pm

The carve thing is more a reflection of the short rail line on a boog. They're only 3'5 in length in surfboard terms. You can carve them ( see Mitch Rawlins as an exponent) but because the rail line is so short you're getting a really tight pivot point, hence the reason lots of boogin' carves get rotated into a reverse spin.

Bodyboarding is booming in South America and Europe and even in Oz sales over the last two years have been stronger than any time in the past decade. It just doesn't have an influx of clueless aspirational lifestyle types and a billionaire propping it up to help gloss over the cracks like surfing does.

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MrBungle Wednesday, 1 Jun 2022 at 10:28am

Bodyboarding really needs waves that are dredging/barreling to show it's potential. You have to be close to the power source of the wave to gain that momentum, that's why they try and hold these events at slabs/wedges. The plus side is that with bodyboarding good riders can get into the pocket of the wave at angles that a surfer would really struggle with. A lot of the time I watch surfing videos with frustration when they are surfing ledging waves and miss half of the barrel with their bottom turn. But when I see a surfer smacking the shit out waves like jbay though I see it the other way around.

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Davesci Wednesday, 1 Jun 2022 at 9:03pm

I dunno if it's a can of worms but I quite like how surf contests actively signal the kinds of expectations they have for waves. It seems like boog contests at the moment basically reward flips and they do look pretty terrible, totally interrupting any momentum or flow, and ugly as hell to land. Having booged since I was 8 I have never even tried a backflip because they carry high risk and no real appeal. ARS, sure, basically all the rest (even the bizarre Gorf) but backflips can get in the bin, difficult or not. Would love to see judges challenge riders to use waves differently at different setups.

Carving is a bit of a lost art - as another commenter said, Rawlins, Hardy, Skipper and others were still able to throw buckets, and carrying speed from a carve into a reverse (or aggressive reverses out of a bowl onto the face) can still look good and feel damn fun. On the pro tour though I'm not sure if judges even see face maneuvers anymore.

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost Tuesday, 31 May 2022 at 6:08pm

Who is the IBC running this show and how many events ? They seem to be finding pretty good waves - hello WSL

dandob's picture
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dandob Tuesday, 31 May 2022 at 7:14pm

They're a collaboration of promoters and event coordinators largely from Chile and Europe. The more successful they can make the contests going into the future they secure there own incomes.

gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti Friday, 3 Jun 2022 at 2:14pm

Yeah these tours have had some rad spots... Arica, Itacotiara, Fronton, Tand, Box...

yvdreh's picture
yvdreh's picture
yvdreh Wednesday, 1 Jun 2022 at 5:57am

Hi it's me, your new IBC judge.

Love a bit of boog content on swellnet, thanks Dan.

NewcastleWaterman's picture
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NewcastleWaterman Thursday, 2 Jun 2022 at 9:44am

Thanks for sharing a bodyboarding article. Be great to see a stand up paddle article.
Happy to write one.

lettuceleif's picture
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lettuceleif Thursday, 2 Jun 2022 at 1:02pm

Love when a Simpsons quote is thrown into an article, or anything for that matter.