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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Mon, 18 September 2017

You may not know this, but South Africans were dominating world bodyboarding even before Durban's Iain Campbell's storming victory at the Sintra Pro in Portugal yesterday, writes Spike.


ROOF OF AFRICA: Iain Campbell must be getting used to this view. Photo APB / Araujo

South Africans are up there with the best. In fact, they are the best. Campbell just strengthened his number one spot on the the APB Bodyboarding World Tour and surely closes in on the world title with two events to go (Nazare and Fronton in the Canaries). Campbell has been on the podium in five of six APB events entered this year (he missed Teahuppo'o): 4th (Arica, Chile), 2nd (Pipeline), 3rd (Itacoatiara, Brazil), and 2nd (Antofagasta, Chile).

Not to be outdone, Cape Town-based Jared Houston (did not surf in Portugal due to injury) was ranked 2nd before Sintra after winning at Chopes, the event Campbell missed but after Sintra slips to third place. Saffas have won a third of the Tour so far. At Sintra over the last week, Hermanus-based Tristan Roberts had a barnstorming run, moving up from 19th in the world (he has missed Pipeline and Chopes - the most expensive to get to of course) after making it to finals day, where he placed fifth. After Sintra, he's sitting on #14 in the rankings.

Remember, bodyboard ranking works differently to surfing. Only the top five results from a possible nine on Tour are tallied. In theory, you can miss four events and still be world champ.

Another Saffa standout at Sintra was Margate junior Alex Nutt, who "amazed the crowd with his ability to ride frontside in both directions". Nutt is a promising youngster aged 14 riding in the junior division. But it was the seniors Campbell and Roberts who stole the show in Portugal.

In Round 4, Roberts stunned the crowd in the dying seconds of his heat with a giant rollo off a gnarly end section, one of the best moves of the whole event for a 9.75, while Campbell scooped the only 10 point ride of the event.

"It was quite a foamy wave," recounts Roberts, "and I rode past the first section, which I had really wanted to use. I didn’t have much speed, but flying into a big end section, I didn’t have much speed to much more than a roll.”

“The landing was heavy. I just put it all on the line as it was the end of the heat. But the wave kind of pushed me out the front luckily, so I was really happy I went for it in the end.”

There was some wild surf earlier in the event, with one day cancelled due to giant, stormy conditions. Sunday dawned windy but sun-soaked in Sintra, with a certain inevitability about Campbell after two consecutive years being the runner-up and a year’s worth of podium finishes without a victory.

Previous world champions Uri Valadao (runner-up) and Pierre Louis Costes (Campbell’s semi-final opponent) were blasted off the park. In the words of the colourful oke who writes the APB news: "Like a bird of prey dive bombing from 50 metres and snatching the one fish in a thousand it had identified before descending, Campbell controlled every wave he rode, bending them to his will rather than seeming to be reacting to their pre-determined undulation."


NUMBER ONE: Iain Campbell looks set to win the world title this year. Photo APB / Araujo

Ha ha. But wait, there's more: "It is unclear as to what this victory means for the world title race at this point in time, but one thing is certain: the one to snatch this title away from Iain Campbell is going to need to be super-human in their approach to the remaining 3 events on the tour, because Campbell shows no sign of fading form."

Young Hawaiian Sammy Morretino was crowned world drop knee champion after beating one of the undisputed greats, fellow Hawaiian Dave Hubbard.

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