Swells up to nine feet served as the platform for surfers and body boarders in Manatí Puerto Rico at the 6th Surf and Body Boarding Competition. La Shawn Pagan was on site for Good Men Project Sports.
With a swell report forecasting between six to nine feet waves in the north, and up to 16 feet in the west, the 6th Surf and BodyBoarding Competition held in Los Tubos beach in Manatí in Puerto Rico was on full blast on Saturday, January 10th.
Mother Nature’s invitation wasn’t ignored.
Although the choppy waters and strong rip currents tried to deter competitors, one of which was swept away for ten minutes by a strong rip current – ultimately being saved by a man on a stand up paddle board, the competition went on without a much of a glitch (the rider was completely fine, after a scary experience he didn’t need any medical assistance and was fine after drinking some water).
As cruise ships sailed by, and the U.S. Coast Guard kept watch by making rounds in their red helicopters, competitors such as local body boarding champion Francisco J. Castro, rode the waves with fury.
But the riders weren’t the only ones with passion for the sport. At one point of the competition, judges sounded the horn to announce the end of that particular round.
As the horn went off, a rider was catching a wave – as the judge said “rider, that wave doesn’t count” fans protested in unison ensuring that they were heard.
A collective “yes it does!” could be heard over the blasting sounds of Bob Marley’s One Love. Yes, one love for the sport.
With the swell so high, it could have been difficult for the judges to score. All tricks have to be done in clear water, and the closer the riders were to the shore, the more they risked riding the mist of the wave instead of creating it, all riders had to go further out into the waters – having to be careful not to be caught in the currents that snatched up one of them earlier on in the competition.
The judges managed to do a good job, after taking a five minute pause to straighten everything out. In the end, Castro won in the category of open body boarding.
While the competition was fierce and honestly a little dangerous, there are plenty of improvements that could be made – especially in the area of safety.
For one, there could have been a few more lifeguards on SeaDoo’s and life boats inside by the competition area in the water to reach competitors faster. With high swells, two rip currents shifting from size, there should have been more safety out there. Also, event organizers should also consider assigning spots for fans and areas for photographers and the press, so that we can get the best shots of the 360º tricks from the body boarders without having to worry that someone is going to walk in front of us and ruin the shot. Still, they managed to do a good job at a site where so much construction had been taking place during the previous months.
Possible improvements for next year aside, my take-away: it was a beautiful and exhilarating day!
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Photo Credit: Author