The magic of bodysurfing is greater than competitions. Like the rest of surfing, there are those who think they shouldn’t be mixed. Considered the first form of surfing and the purest, bodysurfing doesn’t require material support — the fins simply help in safety and performance but aren’t necessary — but the essential elements are just a human body and a wave. That alone would be sufficient for practitioners to earn the maximum respect in the line up, but the reality is different.
“As a bodysurfer, you are the lowest in the food chain. You are so deep in the totem that you can not even get close to one of the good waves that are coming in. You are at the bottom of the pit.” says Keith Malloy.
An organized championship helps to change this perspective, promoting the sport and taking a step toward its professionalization. Bodysurfing is highly demanding both physically and technically and it takes self-awareness and a lot of confidence to face the ocean without a “buoy” of support. But still, since the first contests held in the early 1970s, giving athletes a chance to surf the best Pipeline waves without surfboards around, little has changed. Even today few athletes live off of the pursuit of bodysurfing. Most who do aren’t paid well.
An offshore breeze, perfect waves, and the spring sun kicked off the Ahua Masters of the Temple bodysurfing contest at North Beach, in Nazaré. The contest was set with a large competition window and a 72-hour call in advance for the athletes. One of the highlights was a perfect 10 by Arthur Picard during a heat in which he scored 18.17, obtaining the best and highest total heat award. “It was so fast, so crazy, it was the best tube of my life,” Arthur said.
The winner of the event was Jonathan Despergers, facing Arthur Picard, António Stott, Miguel Rocha, Tomás Alves, and Nathan Lehoux in the final.
“We already knew that the call at North Beach would be a great challenge and we’re very happy with the final result,” said Nuno Mesquita, founder of Ahua. “It’s the celebration of what unites us. We appreciate the confidence we had from all the players and we are considering a new edition.”
It’s great to watch the true essence of surfing in action. An event like this makes it possible to reverse the current position of bodysurfing in the hierarchy of each lineup, with bodysurfing migrating to the top where it belongs.
Editor’s Note: The event webcast was powered by Municipality of Nazaré and MEO and is available online at www.ahuasurf.com