South Africa’s Jared Houston has won his maiden APB World Bodyboarding Title in dramatic circumstances at the Encanto Pro Cultura in Puerto Rico.
The 26-year-old endured a stressful wait on the beach of Middles as he watched his world title rival, Frenchman Pierre-Louis Costes, compete in an action packed Encanto Pro men’s final against Hawaii’s Jeff Hubbard.
Costes came from long odds to have the world title within reach, needing to win the Encanto Pro Cultura to overtake Houston on the APB rankings.
However PLC – who had won the event in 2011 on the way to his maiden world title – had no answer to Hubbard’s early aerial assault on the Middles’ waves, with the Hawaiian scoring some of the highest points of the day to finish with 17.00 points to Costes’ 13.40 points.
It was the second victory at the Encanto Pro for Hubbard and marks his return to international competition after missing out on the first half of the APB Tour due to an ankle injury sustained freesurfing in Australia.
Houston was visibly nervous as he watched the Encanto Pro final, with the realisation that he had won his inaugural world title not coming until the final minutes of the heat.
“There are no words to describe this moment,” Houston said has he fought back tears.
“That was the longest day of my life.
“I am super happy. I worked really hard this year so I am happy I got it.
“Big congratulations to Jeff (Hubbard) and Jacob (Romero) for the help they gave me.”
Houston, who now lives in Puerto Rico with his wife and daughter, becomes the first South African to win a bodyboarding world title since Andre Botha, who won two world titles in 1998 and 1999.
Houston’s world title hopes seemed all but gone after a shock round six loss at the hands of Hubbard and Chilean Nelson Flores yesterday.
The early exit put Amaury “Moz” Lavernhe in the driver’s seat to take the title, needing to win his round seven heat only to known Houston out of the title race, and needing to progress past the quarter finals to win it all.
But the twists kept coming, with Moz unable to overcome the high flying antics of Jacob Romero. The Hawaiian won the heat and, as a result, took Lavernhe out of the title race.
In the Pro Junior division, Brazilian supergrom Socrates Santana claimed the inaugural APB Pro Junior world title after progressing to the final of younger division.
Despite losing in the final to local Puerto Rican Abner De Arce, The finals appearance gave Santana enough points to overtake rankings leader Tanner McDaniel and take home the trophy.
It caps off an incredible rise to the top for Santana, who hails from the notorious favelas in Rio de Janeiro.
Santana overcame a life of adversity to pursue his love of bodyboarding and was mentored by six-time world champion Guilherme Tamega.
The emotional final day of the Encanto Pro caps of an impressive APB World Tour season which had a total of six official rounds and five different event winners.
2015 APB World Tour Champions
Men: Jared Houston (South Africa)
Women: Alexandra Rinder (Canary Islands)
Pro Junior: Socrates Santana (Brazil)
Dropknee: Dave Hubbard (Hawaii)
Stay tuned to riptidemag.com.au for a video highlights of the final day of competition.