Wed, 23 October 2019

The world title came down to the wire, as it might for the WSL at Pipe, when South African Tristan Roberts won the APB bodyboard world tour in the final heat of the last event of 2019.


COSTING COSTES: World title contender Pierre-Louis Costes needed Roberts to lose. Photo APB

Roberts surfed against Frenchman Amaury Lavernhe at the heavy slab of El Frontón, Gran Canaria, in the final event of the Association of Bodyboarding Professionals (APB) World Tour, the Fronton King Pro. The path to victory was simple for the local from Onrus near Hermanus, who cut his teeth on the heaving secret slabs in and around his home. He had to win.

For the closest world title contender Pierre-Louis Costes, who was eliminated early in the competition, his countryman Lavernhe had to win to hand Costes a third world title.

Roberts becomes the 4th Saffa in five years to win a bodyboard world title, a remarkable record that shows how dominant South Africa is in men's bodyboarding, partly because of the talent on offer, and helped by the quality of the heavy reefs in South Africa that are perfect for bodyboarding.

Roberts' win makes it four world championships for South Africa in five years: Jared Houston won in 2015 and last year, 2018, with Iain Campbell winning in 2017. Remember also 2012, when Sacha Specker was IBA World DK Champion. Roberts was APB World Junior Champion in 2014.

Earlier on finals day at El Fronton, Roberts needed to overcome a stacked heat that included his friend and previous world champ Campbell and 2008 world champion Uri Valadao from Brazil. He made it through with his trademark backflips and inverts.

In the final, most bets would have been on multiple El Fronton champ Lavernhe, who has a deep understanding of the intricacies of the reef. With wind and rain battering the line-up, local knowledge could have been the difference. However, Roberts locked into a solid tube on the right, and followed that by a clean ARS out of the bowl to lock in his first strong score of the final.


BARRELLED PROPER: Roberts built up a lead that could not be overhauled. Photo APB

With a bit of back and forth for priority, Roberts eventually found another right and launched a huge invert to solidify his lead. Lavernhe found a clean invert on the left to post a decent score, but was unable to complete a large reverse to put himself back in the heat.

As the clock counted down the final seconds, Roberts and Lavenhe shared a final ride on Roberts’ priority and the rest was history. Roberts celebrated in the water, and later with friends and family on the cliff.

"It feels like I've done the impossible. I thought I had lost the world title this year. I started really really good, I made a few mistakes along the way, and just tried to do my best," explained Roberts. "I love Gran Canaria. It has always been a big part of me and my riding."


FOUR FROM FIVE: Roberts stamped Saffa authority on the bodyboarding world. Photo APB

"The Canary Islands helped me through one of the toughest times in my life when my dad passed away, and the community really helped me. I'm forever grateful to all the locals," he said.

In the women's final, Alexandra Rinder put out a solid performance to defeat Isabela Sousa in front of her home crowd. The APB World Tour took competitors to Hawaii, Brazil, Chile, Australia, Portugal and Spain.

1. Tristan Roberts (RSA) 15.17
2. Amaury Lavernhe (REU) 13.20

1. Alexandra Rinder (CNY) 14.94
2. Isabela Sousa (BRA) 7.33

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