With three riders battling it out for the APB World Title, the Encanto Pro may go down as one of the best tour finishes in bodyboarding history.
Arguably the three biggest names on this year’s world tour, just 600-odd points separate world title contenders Jared Houston, Amaury Lavernhe and Pierre-Louis Costes as they enter the final round.
We decided to give our insight and predictions into each rider and how we think this year’s world tour showdown will shake out.
After a slow and somewhat disappointing start to the year where he struggled at all three South American events, 2011 world champion Pierre-Louis Costes came back with a vengeance by winning the Sintra Pro in Portugal. He backed this up with another semi-final appearance at Nazaré and, surprisingly, has put himself within range of a second world title. While he has the slimmest odds out of the three riders, and needs a lot of things to work in his favour, anything is possible with the Frenchman who won at Encanto in 2011.
Why he will win: If you happened to stay up for the Sintra Pro final and managed to endure the challenging (or as Mike Stewart so eloquently put it: “crappy”) conditions, then you would have seen PLC put on a spectacle. The Frenchman was surfing like a man possessed, pulling out backflips on waves that many would struggle to even move across (we lost count after six flips). If PLC brings that same game to the ridiculously fun ramps of Middles then expect an interesting finish.
Why he won’t win: As we outlined previously, in order for PLC to win his second world title, he would need to win the Encanto Pro and have both Jared Houston and Amaury Lavernhe reach no further than the quarterfinals. While this is possible (both Jared and Amaury have had early exits previously this year) we just don’t see these champion riders making that big of a mistake.
Verdict: 3rd – It was an impressive comeback by PLC to even be in contention of the world title after such a poor start to the season. However, being more than 600 points behind Jerry and Moz will be his ultimate downfall.
After five rounds, two victories and two quarterfinal appearances, South Africa’s Jared “Jerry” Houston finds himself in the unfamiliar position as APB rankings leader heading into the final event. Apart from a shock early round exit at Itacoatiara, The 26-year-old has been consistent and impressive all year round and has earned his place at the top of the tour. Can Jerry become the first South African since Andre Botha to win a world bodyboarding title?
Why he will win: Jerry has had the most tour victories this year and is certainly in form after winning the Nazaré Pro in pretty tough conditions. Also, by our (somewhat dodgy) calculations, the only time Jerry and Moz have met in a knockout heat this year was in the final of the Arica Chilean Challenge, where Jerry came away victorious.
Why he won’t win: In one of our earlier articles, we questioned whether Jerry could handle the pressure of winning a contest with a world title on the line. Well, we expect to have that question answered very soon. The relatively inexperienced world tour competitor is going up against a competition beast in Amaury Lavernhe, who will do whatever it takes to win a third world crown.
Verdict: 2nd – We’re predicting (and hoping) it will come down to both Jerry and Moz meeting in the final of the Encanto Pro to decide the world title. And while it will surely be a highly entertaining heat, we think Moz will be just too hard to beat in the end.
After flying out of the gates with a dominant victory in Itacoatiara, Amaury “Moz” Lavernhe looked on course to claim a third world tour crown as he cruised to the finals at the Arica Chilean Challenge. However, it all changed when Jared Houston defeated him in an amazing final at Arica. He then lost to Lewy Finnegan in his semi-final at Antofagasta. And when the Reunion Island local was given a shock early round exit at Sintra, all bets were off. Moz bounced back with a third place at Nazaré, but now finds himself 36 points behind Houston going into Puerto Rico. With such little points difference between them, the 2015 world champion will be decided by who progresses further at Encanto.
Why he will win: Experience. Moz simply oozes it in every heat he goes into. The 30-year-old tour veteran has been here before and knows exactly what it takes to win a world title. Also, despite not having won an official APB Tour event since round one in Brazil, he has shown recent form by taking out the Fronton King specialty event in pumping conditions.
Why he won’t win: Having not won a world tour event in nearly four months, and having lost in his only knockout meeting against his main rival are worrying signs for the reigning champion. But we think the biggest hurdle for Moz will be avoiding a shock early round exit at the hands of hungry wildcards, as that has been the one chink in his armour this year.
Verdict: 1st – We have been predicting Moz to win his third world title all year long, and we are going to stick to our guns on this one. While Jared Houston has proved a worthy contender for the title this year, we think Moz’s ridiculous depth of skill, experience and wave sense will have him bringing home the silverware yet again.
About the 2015 Encanto Pro:
The Encanto Pro will take place at Middles Beach in Isabela, Puerto Rico.
The opening ceremony of the event will take place on Wednesday November 4, however, the waiting period for both the MWT and PJWT contests will take place from Thursday, November 5 until Sunday, November 15 with each day starting at approximately 9pm (AEST non-daylight savings time).
The event will be streamed live via the APB Tour website at http://apbtour.com/live/ with Steve “Action” Jackson returning as lead commentator.