IBC World Tour Event 3: Antofagasta, Chile
Ever lie in bed at night as a grom and fantasise about beating a professional rider to claim victory in a contest at your homebreak in front of an adoring crowd?
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's 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 sponsor of the contest.
Men's Finals day dawned with 4, occasionally 6 foot lefts and the consistent offshore winds that flow across the coast thanks to the cold Humboldt current running 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 commentator's audio would drop out, the live scores disappeared from the feed, and we missed all of the first Quarter between Antofagasta local Manuel Cepeda and Alan Munoz. Manuel won apparently.
The broadcast resumed midway through Quarter 2 with tour leader Tristan Roberts leading the heat against 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. He lofts an invert and then flows into a hybrid backflip/180 half-air reverse that nets only mid-range scores.
Tristan takes a set wave and does the same backflip that the judges seem to be so enamoured with for the last two comps, scores a 7.5 and takes the win.
Further proof that creativity in the contest world won't get you the 'W'.
From here on in the flavour of heats largely becomes a battle between unknown underdogs and seasoned professionals.
Two time world champ Pierre Louis Costes matches up against Chilean local Fabian Thaxar.
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. It's his go to when needing a score. After he and Fabian exchange a few mid-score waves, he lofts one into the flats and finishes it up with a solid finger wagging claim as he pulls off. The judges pay it a 9 and PLC secures a Semi-Final birth.
Coming into Semi 1, there was a twinkling little thought in the back of the cortex that if Tristan made the final with the new "best four results" model of the IBC tour he’d be hard to pip as world champion for 2022. All over bar the shouting after just three comps.
Things look to be going to script at the start of the heat as Tristan rolls out the judge-pleasing 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. Then the local hero Manuel finds himself a nice tube for a 7 and perhaps catches some home crowd advantage as he is high balled a 6.8 for an inside bowl flip. The scores give him the heat lead.
Cepeda looks and surfs a lot like former Hawaiian pro Kelley Hunt: the constantly raised outside leg, the board slightly extended away from the body as he throws out whippy flips.
As the minutes click down, Tristan suddenly looks cooked, needing a big 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 from a mountain of whitewater seconds later.
With the commentary continuing in Spanish and no live score icon available, it’s difficult to know what is happening. Did Tristan get the score, or has the hometown hero caused a boil over?
Manuel's smile as the camera finds his face tells you everything you need to know. He's just progressed to the contest final at his home break after defeating the current world champ and tour leader. Fantasy mode activated.
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 wants to 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 synch, failing on his first few waves to lock in a decent score.
Tanner flips and rolls to post a 9.
Halfway through the heat Pierre comes to life, finding two scores to break out of combo. Chasing the knockout blow, he turns again to the air forward. Hitting a difficult thick crumbling lip on a set wave, he propels himself through the full spin rotation. An above 9 wave surely. A 10 will give him the lead. The judges pay a 9.75.
On his final 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.
But it’s not enough.
With ninety seconds remaining in the heat he seems to break and admit defeat, catching a wave in. The cameras zoom in on him sitting on the rocks forlornly. The commentators speculate he may have tweaked a lingering shoulder injury and been forced to shore. I think he's given it his all but knows he’s still lost.
He looks exhausted.
Put a pin in this.
Everyone loves a good underdog story, and in Manuel Cepeda we have one. The local kid has just one more hurdle to overcome in Tanner McDaniel in order to make that grom fantasy a reality. After he scores a 9.25 on one of his first waves for a roll/tube/roll combo it seems that this might actually happen.
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. What...The...Fark…?
Manuel then ratchets up the pressure with an outside section roll and an inside section flip for a 7.
The dream inches closer…
Tanner picks off a set wave, completes the seemingly now required big flip and grabs an 8.25.
As the heat clicks into the last five minutes, Manuel fails to land a big invert that probably would have sealed the win. On the wave behind, Tanner flares out another judge-pleasing big, clean backflip for a second 8.25 and claims victory, stealing the fairytale finish from the hometown kid from Antofagasta by just 0.25 of a point.
Tanner almost falls of the back of the jetski sled, twice, whilst celebrating. He’s $10,000 richer and has grabbed a valuable 3,500 tour points to move into second place behind Tristan Roberts.
Unfortunately, on land we don’t get to hear from Tanner or Manuel about how they feel about the victory. The IBC strangely chooses to just play generic rock music over the footage of the presentation ceremony.
Now, if you think that's where the action stopped you'd be wrong. The Antofagasta contest is a bodyboard festival. There's women's, junior men's, junior women, and dropknee divisions to complete. Another six days of heats, climaxing with a huge concert and presentation night with local dignitaries and events sponsors.
However, when the men's division finished, many international riders, exhausted after more than three weeks in Chile and three back to back contests, chose to head home early, skipping the presentation night
Rumours suggest that the IBC slugged those not in attendance at the closing ceremony with a no-show naughty tax of $1,000.
Next stop, Brazil.
// DAN DOBBIN
Good to have a bit of variety Dan! 11 days of highlights on IBCs youtube, DK comp on day 7 is kinda sick
Dhubbs versitily is epic. Versatile shred lord, old school like maligs and others. Hawaiian style
just seen some brazil highlights, backflip tech city