Return flights from Hawaii to Brazil: $2,000
Accommodation for two weeks in Itacoatiara: $800
Hire car for two weeks: $600
Pro Junior Entry Fee: $200
Being unceremoniously knocked out of the event because of the hassling of three locals: …Priceless
Just last weekend I was sitting with a group of other bodyboarders casually chatting about the APB OpenLive Shark Island Challenge. What a sick competition it was!
Apart from the amazing waves, slick organisation and epic webcast, what stood out more than anything was the froth and positivity every rider involved approached the competition with.
Jake Stone (who was not even competing) was firing up his Facebook Live to give props and encouragement to the other riders while there were multiple social media posts by riders amping on the waves caught by their mates. It was good vibes all round.
What a shame it was that we changed gear and moved to Brazil for the next event on the APB World Tour to witness one of the of most disgraceful displays of sportsmanship ever seen. If anyone wants to re-live Tanner McDaniel’s heat against Brazilian trio Matheus Bastos, Marcelo Santos and Igor de Almeida you can watch it below:
To set the scene we had Tanner, the lone non-South American in the draw, pitted against three Brazilians in the quarterfinal. Tanner needs no introduction, he is a trailblazing grommet from the North Shore of Hawaii who could very well be world champion one day.
The waves were terrible; a 2-foot onshore slop-fest. The three Brazilians drawn against Tanner hatched a plan to sit one rider either side of the young Hawaiian and follow him up and down the beach. This made it virtually impossible for Tanner to catch a wave and allow their countryman (and ripper in his own right) Matheus Bastos to cruise to victory.
Aren’t there rules against this you may ask? Well since there was no priority being run in the heat the rules are simple the normal interference rules as you might use at a club competition namely:
The first rider to gain momentum from the wave shall be deemed to have unconditional wave possession. The rider must have an unimpeded path across the face of the wave in the direction they have chosen to ride.
It also seems that even the snaking interference rules could not help Tanner:
The rider on the wave first, that is, the rider who reaches the wave first, begins paddling and gains momentum on it first, has possession of that wave, even if a rider who subsequently takes off later is closer to the breaking part of the wave or takes off in the white water behind the rider who had first momentum. The second momentum rider will receive a snaking interference penalty.
So if the two Brazilian riders blocking Tanner simple sat a little further out than him and made sure they had momentum on the waves first without touching Tanner there was nothing the judges could do to penalise them.
Regardless if it is against the rules or not, this is yet another sickening display of what seems to be a worrying trend in bodyboarding. Now more than ever there seems to be a widening gap between what Australians, Hawaiian’s, South Africans and Americans consider the sport of bodyboarding compared to our friends from South America and Europe.
Bodyboarding is a recreational sport and not a sport which should ever involve the bullshit and theatrics of soccer.
This “win at all costs” attitude to competition surfing is the exact reason why a huge number of athletes and fans are turning their backs on competitions held in Europe and South America. No one in the world cares if you grew up in a favela, slum, middle-class suburb or multi-million dollar house on the beach, a bad sport is a bad sport and someone who is willing to block, interfere and snake, instead of letting their surfing do the talking has to take a long hard look at themselves and why they bodyboard. Bodyboarding is a recreational sport and not a sport which should ever involve the bullshit and theatrics of soccer.
Since the legendary Guilherme Tamega, there has not been one South American who has transcended their popularity into board sales in Australia, Hawaii, South Africa or the USA. This is because GT charges, shows great sportsmanship, and lets his wave riding do the talking.
This is the exact same reason why the most popular bodyboarders in the world are still guys that only dabble in competitions – they let their surfing do the talking. No one cares how many Pro Junior World Titles you win if you have to grovel and use underhanded tactics to get them. They will never make you a professional or even let you have a career in our sport.
In a strange twist of fate, even though he is now knocked out of the competition, it seems that Tanner McDaniel will come out looking like the good guy in this whole situation. He will also probably be the one to go on and have a very fruitful career. It is a shame for the other talented guys in the heat that their long-term goal of being a professional bodyboarders was clouded by short-term aspirations to make a single heat in a junky, two-foot shore break.