After winning the Fronton King Pro in epic conditions last month, Amaury Lavernhe finished runner up to Frenchman Pierre-Louis Costes for the 2016 APB World Title.
Irish charger and occasional Riptide scribe, Seamus “Shambles” McGoldrick decided to catch up with Moz to discuss an epic year on the tour, and what is next for the dual world champion.
Interview by Seamus McGoldrick | All images courtesy of Josh Tabone/APB Media
Shambles: The APB had a pretty successful year this year. They had more events and places like Teahupoo and Nazare were added to the tour. Did you think it was a successful year and are you looking forward to next year?
Amaury: Yes. I think this was a successful year for the APB but also for the whole sport of bodyboarding! I mean since 2013 – when the tour could have been ending, we have a decent tour with an official world champion, so this is a good year!
I think this year was the best so far since the APB was created. For us to be able to compete in waves like Pipeline, Teahupo’o, Arica, Nazaré and Fronton is a dream. After ten years competing on the world tour I am sure of one thing: the guys are not here for the money. They are here because they love contests and, more than anything, they love bodyboarding at the highest level!
I know that next year will be even better and today the APB crew are thinking about long term plans. We should have more good contests and hopefully more media around our sport.
Shambles: This year, the top ten had some familiar faces like you, Jeff, PLC but it also had some fresh faces like Iain Campbell and Alex Uranga. For the viewers this makes things exciting. What is your opinion?
It is definitely a good thing for the sport! People may think that because there are less Australians on tour that the level is not that high, but I don’t agree because we have new guys coming and, trust me, they have so much skill and talent: guys like Iain, Alex, Tristan, Tanner, Max Castillo. To have new blood competing on the world tour is a great opportunity for them but also for the viewers from all over the world.
Shambles: Rumour has it that this is Mike Stewart’s last year on tour. What has it been like watching Mike on tour for the last few years and will the tour be the same without him?
The tour will definitely not be the same without Mike. He still has the skills to be at the top in good waves and rips at special events like Tahiti, Pipe and Fronton. Mike is one of the best tube riders of all time and because of his experience he is one of the best competitors on tour.
But this is just on a contest side because to have Mike on the tour is much more than this: he is like a master for most of us and he is giving an amazing image of our sport around the world!
Shambles: You now live in Gran Canaria. Why did you decide to live there?
Initially I decided to come here for training as the shark crisis in Reunion was going too crazy for me to stay. So I came to the Canary’s as the waves are amazing and the level of the locals is just insane. For me it seems like the best place to keep surfing and progressing.
After few months there I met my wife Malennhy and I decided to spend the next winter here, renting a place and buying an old car. This year I bought a home that I’m renovating, our son just turned three years old and I’m still living the dream here on the north coast of Gran Canaria!
The local people are super friendly, the waves are made for our sport and I can surf pretty much every day which is the way of life I’m looking for.
Shambles: You are doing some coaching with young bodyboarders in Gran Canaria. Who are the best up and coming groms?
Amaury: Yes. I am doing a bit of coaching here but nothing official yet. I am looking forward to opening the Amaury Academy here in Galdar in the next month and start giving courses to the local kids. There is an amazing potential here for bodyboarding, so many kids are surfing on the smaller days and the sport needs structure and organisation.
Today William Lujan is one of the best young riders in the Canary’s and he is charging some big waves. Pablo Hernandez also is a great talent, a really stylish rider with good potential. I know there are also some good riders on the east side and I hope to see them surfing this winter.
Shambles: I think Fronton is the best location for the final stop on the world tour of bodyboarding. What makes Fronton so special for competition and what have been your best surfing moments there?
Yes. Fronton is the perfect final stop on the APB tour. I mean every event has a different type of waves and to finish at Fronton, a right and left slab and one of the best bodyboarding waves on the planet, this is awesome for the sport!
This wave is ridiculously consistent. It catches pretty much all swell directions and is still fun even with onshore wind. The only thing that makes it fickle are the tides.
I’ve had so many good surfs since I started living here and it would be hard to find my best memories, so many mornings alone, before dark sessions et cetera, but the last swell we had in May this year was just too good. I remember surfing for six hours with only ten to fifteen guys out and some ten foot bombs coming. Definitely one of the highlights of last season.
Now the new season has started and I am super motivated to surf it again and again but also looking for waves all over the islands which have an amazing potential for bodyboarding.
Shambles: Your friend Pierre Louis Costes just won his second world title at pumping Fronton. How was it?
Amaury: To see PLC win his second world title was something really intense. For me, Pierre is technically one of the best riders on this planet with a perfect balance right and left, riding good from one foot to fifteen foot and always really consistent. Competitions are not just about technique but Pierre is just next level compared to many riders on the tour today. This year he combined his surfing to work tactically to win and here is the result.
Our friendship and rivalry pushed us to where we are today and I am super proud of what he has achieved in the last few years, pushing the limits and always looking for a better way to ride. We are travelling together since he was fifteen and today he is still my main inspiration and one of my best friends.
Amaury: Winning the Fronton event was just awesome. This wave is such a spot for bodyboarding, super consistent and always offering something. I was super exited to have a contest in front of my home, no planes, no board bag, just three minutes driving. It is why I was feeling super comfortable during the event, with a good daily routine and the support of my family. It is like an advantage sometimes but there is also a lot of pressure to compete on a wave that you know well with all your people around.
To have all the best bodyboarders riding Fronton was just insane. I was trying not to think too much about the world title, just focusing on the comp, trying to surf at my best level every heat. We had pretty much all types of conditions for the event.
The contest format changed on the last day because they had to run off the event. I was not really keen about the four man heats but there were plenty of waves for everyone.
The final was pretty hectic with the lower tide. It was pretty much the biggest Fronton I have surfed with a low tide like this. On a normal day people are leaving the spot at this stage, but us, we were starting a forty minutes final!
Being with Pierre in the line up was such a good feeling. We have a super close relationship even if we have a lot of rivalry from the world tour and as professional bodyboarders. But as we are getting older I feel that our friendship is getting more natural and I am so proud of where he is today.
Shambles: Well, thanks for the interview Moz and best of luck with the Amaury Academy. I am sure you will be training at least one or two future world champs.