El Fronton: fear it

The 2011 IBA World Tour title is going to be decided in the crazy wave of El Fronton, in the Canary Islands, Spain. Jeff Hubbard and Pierre Louis Costes are only separated by 300 points, but Ryan Hardy and Amaury Lavernhe can still do it.

The 21 year-old Frenchman is the youngest of the four world title contenders heading into the ultimate event on the bodyboarding calendar at El Fronton in the Canary Islands.

“It’s because of them that I’ve got to this level and that’s why today I’m competing with them. I think I’m a threat for them as they are a threat for me”, says Pierre-Louis Costes. A few years ago, the guys he looked up to as idols are now his adversaries.

Had Costes not beaten current tour leader and two times world champion, Hawaiian Jeff Hubbard, in Puerto Rico last week, the title race could have screeched to a halt, leaving El Fronton nothing but a dead rubber. “It’s the best bodyboard wave in the world. I’ve been following the weather patterns and it’s been pumping over there. I think we’re going to get waves”, says Hubbard.

Last time Australian Ryan Hardy was in contention for a world title, it also came down to the last event of the calendar, Hubbard was his opposite number and he had to make the final. Hardy needs to win this event and is prepared to do anything. “I have to get first, no other options about it. I’ve got nothing to lose. Knowing what Fronton has to offer basically means I have to be prepared to get hurt”, says Hardy.

Guilherme Tamega was one of the first people to ride El Fronton 15 years ago, when Costes was six years old. Tamega, the six times runner-up and six times world champion, also needs to win El Fronton to make his firsts outnumber his seconds.

According to Tamega, El Fronton compares to no other wave in the world. “I’ve never surfed any other place like Fronton, never. I’ve surfed heavy waves, I’ve surfed fun waves, but the Fronton I think is the whole package. You can find anything out there. It’s an unbelievable wave and I probably know it better than most of the guys”, says Tamega.

Breaking over a shallow volcanic reef on the north coast of Gran Canaria in the town of Galdar, El Fronton sits at the bottom of steep cliffs, allowing audiences to have a bird’s eye view of the action below. In conjunction with RedBull TV and YouTube TV, the El Fronton Pro is expected to be the most viewed event in bodyboarding history. “It’s an extreme wave for an extreme finish to a sick year”, says Ryan Hardy.