Just eight riders remain in contention for event number two on the International BodyBoard World Tour, The Box Pro, with quarter-final placings being decided today in heaving four-to-six feet (two-metre) waves.
Local Ryan Hardy (Margaret River, WA), reigning Men’s IBA World Tour champion Amaury Lavernhe (REU) and multiple Men’s IBA World Tour champion, Guilherme Tamega (BRA) were among the stand-outs on a day that saw blood lost to the reef and at least one board broken in two.
Former two-time IBA world champion Damien King (Port Macquarie, NSW, AUS) received medical attention for gashes to his face after being driven head-first into the reef just moments into his heat versus Mark McCarthy (ZAF), Dave Winchester (AUS) and Joe Clarke (AUS).
The 32 year-old was desperately chasing a win to solidify a Round 4 berth and gave it everything he had when the rogue wave appeared.
“It (the wave) came through in the first five or 10 seconds of the heat and I could see it was hitting wide, but I thought it could be a good one so I thought ‘I’ll go for it’,” explained King.
“I backdoored it and I hit my face on the bottom faster than you can blink. I just got smashed, I hit real hard. I’m just lucky I didn’t hit my teeth. I knew I needed to win that heat to stay in the comp so I just kept my focus and stayed out there. You can’t get rattled when that sort of stuff happens, you need to expect it somewhere like the Box. Unfortunately things didn’t go my way today.”
South African, Jared Houston (ZAF), found himself in a unique situation; the 21 year-old had his board split apart after an aerial attempt gone awry. Houston punched a huge air-forward off a wedging Box end-section and came down hard over the front of his board. It caved in beneath him, buckling under the pressure, and folded straight down the middle.
“I saw that section and just went for it,” he explained. “I came down so hard my arms hit under water, I was still holding onto my board so I knew straight away it had snapped. I tried to ride out of it, but there was no way that was happening.”
Houston borrowed another board from someone waiting in the channel, but the relief was short lived. It was two inches shorter than what he normally rides.
“I was kinda going nowhere with it, then the guys on the ski went and picked up my back-up board and brought that to me, but I’d never ridden that either, it had no wax on it, it was so slippery. So the whole heat I was just trying to make the most of a pretty bad situation,” said Houston.
Houston regrouped to advance into the quarter-finals, where he has now drawn fellow countryman, Mark McCarthy (ZAF), in an all South African match-up. The only time the pair have faced off at the elite level occurred at Pipeline two years ago with Houston getting the nod.
Tamega was fortunate to survive his encounter versus IBA event wildcard, Mitch Rawlins (Broadbeach, Qld, AUS). The six-time world champion was combed for most of the 25-minute encounter, requiring two excellent scores to have a hope of progressing.
Rawlins went ballistic early, putting one of the sport’s biggest names on the ropes with a near perfect 9.6 out of a possible perfect 10 for an incredible barrel followed by a huge, text-book invert air.
With the highest individual wave-score of the event to his name, Rawlins then solidified his position with a second good scoring wave of 5.8 points and looked to have the heat locked away. But Tamega scraped back into contention registering a 7.9 ride, then with nothing to lose in the final seconds, caught the only breaking wave and pulled a huge backflip to take the win.
“I was just waiting for the heat to be over,” said Tamega. “This little wave came to me and I thought, ‘Oh, I might as well catch this one’. It formed on the inside and gave me the biggest ramp ever and I thought, ‘Whoa!’ I just went for it and it worked, I didn’t think the judges would give it me though, I heard the score and it was just too good to be true.”
Hawaiian, Jeff Hubbard is looking down the barrel at a possible trifecta, the 35 year-old bodyboarding vet is coming off two consecutive wins. One at the final event of 2010 at Fronton in the Canary Islands and the first event on the 2011 tour held in his backyard at Pipe in February.
Things did not go the Hawaiian’s way the last time Hubbard competed at The Box more than eight years ago, he was eliminated early from the event in much smaller conditions.
“It’s one of those things, you just gotta pretend those other wins don’t exist and just keep going for it otherwise it creates too much pressure. So my approach is in every heat is like I’m starting from scratch,” said Hubbard.
“I’m pretty amped because there’s good waves coming, it’s going to be bigger than last time I competed here, it’s going to really help us. Plus it’s going to be more consistent, so you’ll see all the guys going for it, pushing one another … the level is going to be great. We couldn’t ask for much more,” he added.
Just seven heats remain to determine an IBA Box Pro winner. Organisers will meet at 07:00am local time tomorrow to make a call on proceedings. The current forecast suggests big clean conditions for Wednesday morning, the final day of the waiting period.
Every heat of the IBA Box Pro has been made available for viewing LIVE via the webcast at ibaworldtour.com & redbull.com
Upcoming final’s action from The IBA Box Pro will be available for viewing live at redbull.tv thanks to the crew from RedBull Media House
Australian viewers can also tune into FUEL TV for finals action – check local guides for times.
IBA BOX PRO
Upcoming Quarter Finals
QF1: Ryan Hardy (WA, AUS) v Dallas Singer (NSW, AUS)
QF2: Jared Houston (Capetown, ZAF) v Mark McCarthy (Durban, ZAF)
QF3: Jeff Hubbard (Haw) v Amaury Lavernhe (REU)
QF4: Magno Oliveira (BRA) v Guilherme Tamega (BRA)
Results Round 4
Ht25: Ryan Hardy (AUS) 13.40pts d Chad Jackson (AUS) 13.25pts
Ht26: Dallas Singer (AUS) 13.85pts d Michael Novy (AUS) 6.15pts
Ht27: Jared Houston (ZAF) 12.75pts d Sam Bennett (AUS) 11.25
Ht28: Mark McCarthy (ZAF) 13.40pts d Pierre Louis Costes (FRA) 13.35pts
Ht29: Jeff Hubbard (Haw) 13.90pts d Eder Luciano (BRA) 10.00pts
Ht30: Amaury Lavernhe (FRA) 14.00pts d Mike Stewart (Haw) 13.00pts
Ht31: Magno Oliveira (BRA) d Ben Player (NSW, AUS)
Ht32: Guilherme Tamega (BRA) 16.30pts d Mitch Rawlins (AUS) 15.40
Results Round 3
Ht 17: 1st Ryan Hardy (AUS), 2nd Mitch Rawlins (AUS), 3rd Guilherme Tamega (BRA), 4th Manuel Centeno (PRT)
Ht 18: 1st Michael Novy (AUS), 2nd Magno Oliveira (BRA), 3rd Spencer Skipper (Haw), 4th Diego Cabrero (CNY)
Ht 19: 1st Ben Player (AUS), 2nd Sam Bennett (AUS), 3rd Dave Hubbard (HAW), 4th Amaury Lavernhe (REU)
Ht 20: 1st Mike Stewart (Haw), 2nd Jeff Hubbard (Haw), 3rd Tom Rigby (AUS), 4th Keahi Parker (Haw)
Ht 21: 1st Mitch Woodland, 2nd Pierre Louis Costes (FRA), (AUS), 3rd Cade Sharp (AUS), 4th Uri Valadao (BRA)
Ht 22: 1st Dallas Singer (AUS), 2nd Eder Luciano (BRA), 3rd Chad Jackson (AUS), 4th Chase O’Leary (AUS)
Ht 23: 1st Jared Houston (ZAF), 2nd Gastao Entrudo (PRT), 3rd Nick Ormerod (AUS), 4th Jake Stone (AUS).
Ht 24: 1st Mark McCarthy (ZAF), 2nd Damien King (AUS), 3rd Dave Winchester (AUS), 4th Joe Clarke (AUS)
The IBA Box Pro is made possible with the support of:
Red Bull redbull.tv
The Black Dog institute blackdoginstitute.org.au
Good Earth Surf Shop goodearthsurf.com