Pikers Gamble

By  Nick Brbot @nickbrbot
All Photos by Keeland Tracy @keelandtracy

So much anticipation and days of swell checking means the forecast looks ideal. The fins, handplane, budgies and towel are packed into a bag. With a last check of the swell forecast to settle the nerves, the lights are switched off, and some rest is sought.

The 0430 alarm goes off, but I’ve already been awake, so much excitement meant I couldn’t sleep. With a final check of the live wave and wind conditions the message is sent out to the crew.



In need of sustenance for the day, a couple of bananas, a water bottle and some RedBull are grabbed from the kitchen for the drive. The roadtrip begins. From all corners of Sydney the boys drive to get to Pikers Hole before first light. For me, the dark morning trip to the place where I grew up is filled with anticipation and questions. Is the swell big enough? Is it too big? Are the winds right? Is the tide right? Bodysurfing a place like this you need to have all weather conditions in your favor otherwise it is a recipe for a broken neck.


As we make our way into the national park, with the deep throaty sounds of the swell crashing on the rocks in the distance, the cockatoos and kookaburras lighten the mood and swell the heart with their morning sings. Rounding the hill and into the car park, and there it is.

Pikers Hole.

Car by car the crew arrive hastily, Peter Sperling (@peter.sperling), Rikki Gibley (@wawhandplanes), Russel Pollard (@bornwithgills), Dan Carr (@captain_kookman), Vic Ivec (@whomp_dog) and Keeland Tracy (@keelandtracy). The initial signs are great, the thunderous sounds of waves crashing against the cliffs and the light offshore winds giving us a false sense of security about surface conditions. By now there is a touch of light in the sky and a bomb rolls through. More than enough to excite the bodysurfer inside.

Everyone suits up, a few stretches are performed and then a rock hop down to the entry. Timing is crucial. An error here can be an early and abrupt end to the morning session. The right wave is eyed off, followed by an entry as the water drains back off the cliff.

The chill of the water immediately wakes you up. But the swim out to the take-off zone through the channel is enough to get the blood flowing. A bump on the horizon presents itself. As it hits the shallow rock ledge this bump triples in size, it is no longer a bump but a mountainous wall of water. You kick as hard as you can onto the face of the wave, a large initial drop that makes it feel like you’re flying, followed by a huge push along the face. The roaring sound of the wave crashing down over you, coupled with the view of the oncoming cliff and rock ledge definitely gets the adrenaline going, those chills from the jump in a distant memory.


The wave starts throwing over you. Enjoy this moment while it lasts. If you’re in luck, the next 10-20 seconds will consist of you being washing machined into the shallow reef with a collection of cuts and bruises to take home with you.

Sometimes the wave will let you out but most of the time it won’t.

This is the gamble of Pikers Hole.   

We Thought We Were Alone…Portugal

Main Image: Rider- António Stott Howorth Photo- Rita Durães

It turns out there were more of us out there after all.

 I started bodysurfing with my older brother and cousins. Some of them went on to join the first generation of bodyboarders in Portugal, others never felt attracted to the sponge invasion… fins, initially brought over by family and friends in Brazil, were all we needed. Wetsuits were a luxury and handplanes were unheard of.

Rider- Fred Quintela Photo- Carlos Duarte
Rider- Fred Quintela Photo- Carlos Duarte

 Occasionally there would be rumours, a guy had been spotted in a line-up somewhere jostling for position with the crowds of board riders, but quite honestly, in about 18 years of bodysurfing exclusively I never once met another bodysurfer I either didn’t know or who was not related to me.

 Then things began to change. A couple of us connected on Facebook; there seemed to be a group who regularly bodysurfed up North; a wave addicted architect began shaping handplanes; “Come Hell or Highwater” appeared out of nowhere and left us staring at our television screens, speechless.

 An experimental competition was organized just outsider of Lisbon and there they were… a few dozen other bodysurfers…with homemade handplanes and fins of different shapes and sizes. But above all the same passion for wave riding with nothing but your body.

 We looked on bemused as the judges, also taking their first steps, explained what maneuvers  were worth more or less points. Then we basically forgot what they had said and went out and did what we loved doing: catching waves and having fun.

Rider- António Stott Howorth Photo- Rita Durães

 One guy stood out. The second tallest of the crew – after me – he sported a silver helmet and we giggled amongst ourselves as he consistently rode the miniature waves all the way to the sand. We weren’t giggling so much when he won. Many of us learned more about bodysurfing in those few weeks than we had in years.

 António Pedro, a veteran surfing championship organizer was the man who took us from an amateur competition and turned it into a proper competition with four stages in different beaches, recognized by the Portuguese Surfing Federation. António Stott Howorth, our silver helmeted friend, became the first Portuguese champion in 2015 and that same year a group drove out to participate in the Euro-Atlantic championship. We had learned that we were not alone, it was time to tell the French.

Rider- Gonaalo Faria Photo- Pedro Vieira
Rider- Gonçalo Faria Photo- Pedro Vieira

 In 2016 the competition grew to five stages, attracting increasing numbers, including some of the pioneers of bodyboarding who, having grown tired of the competitive scene in their sport were drawn to the camaraderie and general goofy spirit and passion of bodysurfing.

 But the year began with tough news for one of the best of us. Migas, who had placed highly in 2015 felt his world crash down around him when he was diagnosed with MS and considered dropping out, since there was no saying how his body would react in the water after he started the medication.

 Fortunately for all of us he persisted and celebrated the 2016 title in front of his bodysurfing peers and a busload of friends and family in the legendary beach of Supertubos, in Peniche.

 As a group of Portuguese bodysurfers makes its way back home after participating in a Euro-Atlantic competition in Morocco – taking two places on the podium in the masters category – we can’t be sure of how far or how fast bodysurfing will progress over the next few years. But we know one thing for sure. We know we’re not alone.  

By Filipe Avillez

Rider- Miguel Rocha Photo- The Blue Trip
Rider- Miguel Rocha Photo- The Blue Trip

Dawn Sunday

By Drew Green

It is dawn on a Sunday. The cold, metal railing seems to the draw the line between wild and civilized, dividing groomed, green grass from unkempt and restless waters. Up above, seagulls hasten to make their morning dives, squawking in their pursuit of crabs and fish, hoping to snag something fresh before the sun rises. As they break the glasslike surface of the water, a new world is briefly revealed to them, as much separate from as it is tied to their own. A sea lion glides past, curious of the feathered disturbance to its breakfast routine. The beast flies effortlessly through the obsidian murk, dipping and diving, reveling in the occasional catch. Once the fish is caught, the creature flicks it into the air, as if playing a game of aquatic basketball. The animal’s play inspires a nearby photographer to… “CLICK” The shutter of a Canon 5D slams down, and this moment is freed from the fleeting nature of time.

They never stay on the bluff for long, the photographers. The frigid offshore wind shoos them and their beanies along the path and eventually back to the refuge of their cars. As the photographer pulls out, his space is taken by a red VW van.. The owner knows the icy water is warmer than the air around him. A neoprene-clad foot steps out from behind the scarlet door, across the manicured grass, and past the railing; casually leaving the uniform parking spaces, grid-paper grass, and engineered symmetry of the apartment building behind it. The man steps down the jagged Torrey sandstone, and sits down on the damp, worn ledge that has been the seat of many a patient water-goer. With fins on, he casts off as water rushes up onto the thawing rocks around him.img_0822

Rocks that have been here for eons. Sometimes the rocks are friendly. Most times they are not. Occasionally they shift and clamor with excitement, when the waves get too big. Today the rocks just wait, immersed in the constant energy of the surf. Energy that has travelled long and far to deliver its fatal blow on this ragged coastline. All of the members of the morning cast feel it. The sea lion is lifted from its hiding place in the kelp, the gulls evacuate their roost on the once-calm surface, the man dives deep into the blue. While submerged, he pauses to look back through the vertical pane of water as it stands up on the reef. He sees the distorted form of the apartment building, complemented by a row of crooked parking spaces, a furry swath of green grass, and a twisted, gray railing.img_0833

Team Kaha Nalu Hawaii in SoCal

When we first heard that Team Kaha Nalu Hawaii was traveling to California in late August for the World Bodysurfing Championship, we immediately crossed our fingers for swell.  We hoped that for all competitors traveling to Oceanside. We wanted to show off our home break.

After a slow start to August, a bump showed up on the long range forecast and sure enough the weekend of the contest saw one of the best swells of the summer.

Here is their perspective on the contest and their time in Southern California.

Team Kaha Nalu founder Sean Enoka:
“This year, the World Bodysurfing Championships really changed my outlook about the whole thing. There is always talk about it being more of a swim contest, and that the waves aren’t good or whatever. But this year there was highly challenging but very good surf, and by the time it narrowed down to the finals it was very clear that the talent level was world class, and ALL of the competitors in the finals were killers…and are in shape.

I think that this year the name World Championships fit the bill because people showed up from all over the world. France was in. Brazil was in. Australia in. California and truly bodysurfers from all over the world. I sat and watched some of the finals on Sunday and it was super impressive how hard everyone was working to get the victory. This year was awesome and I’ll definitely be back in years to come.

We just got lucky with swell and hopefully we can get blessed the next time. On a personal trip, I was disappointed that I didn’t make it out of the first round, but the current + cold + beach start  and 15min heats did me in. But I got a chance to surf the North side of the pier and figure it out a little.

But for the contest itself, I think that all of the organizers and volunteers were awesome and it was a great contest. But I would change a couple of things like having the judges view from the beach, water starts from designated buoy markers, electronic scoring, and some other production stuff but mainly where you start and what the judges can see. I watched Kai’s heat start right as some sets were rolling in and by the time some of the guys made it out, there was like 9 mins left in the heat!  I think the judges are really overloaded and view from the wrong angle. They can’t see anything once you pass them or if you are riding away. Plus, they have to write and look away for that split second that someone could be doing something incredible. Of course bodysurfing isn’t the NFL with replay, but I think that the number of competitors and world title designation justifies a bit of an upgrade. The back to back heat starts and early starts at 6:30am are just necessary in order to process that many people and it goes like clockwork right on time.

We were so lucky to arrive just at the same time as a decent Southern hemi swell. Thursday Wedge was about 2-4 and fun sized with the side wave working and then Friday got a little bigger and the main peak was working. It was great to all be together with the Wedge Crew and also the Frenchmen. That wave is definitely one of the best in the world for bodysurfing.

Very much contestable conditions.
Oside: very much contestable conditions.

Team Kaha Nalu teamrider Kanealii Wilcox:
The contest was amazing! Things that really stood out to me include how many people it draws annually from all over the world and how efficient it runs with 370 competitors in 2 days. The bodysurf community never falls short of top notch camaraderie with everyone sharing the stoke. 

We scored fun Wedge and as long as the Wedge boys are out, its going to be a blast. Whether its trading waves or trading laughs, you can always count on them for a good time. Also, those guys know how to host guests! 
Best part of the whole trip for me was going as a group and experiencing such a great time together and to bring those memories home to reminisce about later!

Team Kaha Nalu teamrider Keali’i Punley:
The WBC was a great experience and a blessing to be a part of. Coming from Hawaii, we are not used to used to cold water. To be honest, I had a difficult time breathing and getting used to a full wetsuit. So I had to adapt and adjust. Fighting the strong current in just a 15 minute heat was hard but we managed. But we know our ability and what we can do on wave. When we got on set waves we ripped them with style. I learned a lot during my first time at the World Bodysurfing Championship. It was great uniting with bodysurfers from all over the world at one location and seeing different styles and techniques.

We had a blast during our Wedge session thanks to our fellow Wedge Crew members. Many of them watched us rip from the beach, “giving us an opportunity” to catch as many waves as possible.

Surf de Peito and the Itacoa Legends 2016

By Tom Ekman

(Photos by author unless otherwise credited)

Are there still surfers in 2016 who will actually welcome you to their break?  Yes…at least in this beautiful corner of Brazil known as ITACOATIARA (ita-ko-ah-CHARA). Five nations coming together and crushing it in massive, concussive waves? 

Bom dia Photo: JC Rodrigues

It felt more like an epic family gathering than a competition.  The “Fish Man”, who stars in his own bodysurfing TV series (and is credited with blowing up the sport in Rio) was just one of the crew.  Every bodysurfer would come up and say ola!, which meant a black-slap and aloha shake with 80 of your newest buddies.  No one’s in this for money, power or chicks.  We just love to bodysurf.    

Maxy Javier (Chile) Photo: @Lucasthephotography



There was a running joke about the wave size at the comp.  Mark Drewelow from San Diego and I called it 14-foot face on a couple of bomber sets.  But to Brazilians, it’s never bigger than 4 feet.  On Facebook, I protested “one meter, my ass!!”, and all the Brazilians chimed in with “one small meter”, etc. etc. 

The Wave

Itacoa is hard to compare to any other wave.  It’s one-part Dominical, one-part Waimea shorebreak, and one-part Baker Beach.  And Itacoa actually gets better with size, because the greater amount of water makes the wave break slightly farther out (emphasis on the word “slightly”, because there is really no outer bar).  Smooth granite flanks on both sides drop into the water at about a 30-degree pitch, creating a cove effect that focuses the wave energy.  (The sides can also refract backwash at the incoming waves).   On top of that, the coast around Rio sees mostly short interval swells from nearby storms, which means virtually no lulls.  It’s always stacked, and it’s always unloading.

95% of Itacoa waves are shut-downs. Over a week or so, I only saw a handful of bodysurfers make pull-out barrels.  Most waves feature a split-second of trimming, followed by a throaty barrel and Homeric thrashing.  (Most guys eschew handplanes because they stall the drop too long…and no one wants to get pitched at Itacoa!).  Once in awhile a bodysurfer gets a longer ride, but usually on backed-off, inside stuff.   The average ride is 3 seconds:  Drop, tuck, and suck.  Itacoa is all about one instant of whomping glory, but with a lip as thick as Pipe, that can be the moment of a lifetime.

Brazilians don’t go to the beach to lay down. They are always playing around with balls and paddles, or promenading the goods up and down the beach.
Brazilians don’t go to the beach to lay down. They are always playing around with balls and paddles, or promenading the goods up and down the beach.

The California Coup

Breno “Batman” , Mark Drewelow, Fredinho and Gabriel Sampaio Photo: Pervaleo
Breno “Batman” , Mark Drewelow, Fredinho and Gabriel Sampaio Photo: Pervaleo

Mark Drewelow, a 53-year-old from San Diego, impressed every one when he showed up sight-unseen at Itacoa the day before the comp (he was out at first light in near-storm conditions), and then placed an impressive 4th in the event.  Judge Vinicius Dobis attributed Mark’s success to experience, good wave choice, and overall endurance. Mark started surfing SoCal spots like the Wedge in the ‘70s.   Before his heat, we watched as a dog jumped into the edge of the water and was instantly carried sideshore by a river of water moving at a fast jog.  “Look at how that water is moving,” Mark commented.  “I’ve never seen water move like that.” 

The Ambassador

Thiago Photo: El Gringo (Arthur Meier)
Photo: El Gringo (Arthur Meier)

Thiago Maciel is one of the de facto ambassadors of Itacoa/Rio bodysurfing. Thiago’s always joking around with the crew, and always knows exactly what’s going on at any given moment – where it’s breaking, and who’s on it.  A serious biologist and a stand-out bodysurfer, Thiago is The Man.


Heat Highlights

The competition was based on the ASP rating system, which scores competitors based on their two best waves.  Marcelo Zampieri scored a perfect 10 in the first round with a clean, deep barrel.   Kalani Lattanzi and Yuri both pulled high-scoring 360s in their heats.  Kalani made an attempt to replicate Kane Tsunameh’s (O`ahu) impressive front flip, but didn’t pull the trick. In the end it was Yuri Martins who took down the top spot despite the serious competition.

Finalists Photo: Pervaleo
Photo: Pervaleo


Hats off to Lucas Castro from Whooze for putting together such a bang-up event.  Lucas totally killed it!  Big ups to the Rio scene O.G.’s:  Paulo Pereira, JC Rodrigues and Vinicius Dobis.  And a heartfelt muito obrigado to all of the Surfe de Peito crew for all of the good times in and out of the water!

If you go to Rio, please consider bringing some fins for the local guys.  Because of import tariffs, a pair of fins can cost $150 in Brazil.  (Trust me: they will really appreciate it.  Note the stitched-together fins below.)

Make em last
Make em last

Check out more videos from Pervaleo HERE

Go to the Whooze website for more information on past and future events.

My Name Is Alice and My Mom Is My Wonderland

By Alice Latuf

I don’t remember a moment in my life I wasn’t surprised by my mom, Briguitte Linn Wiedemeyer.

Since I was a little girl, I have this image of her as someone who could do anything if she wanted to. But the thing is, she does what she loves – and, thank god, it has everything to do with water.imagensA޺midas2016-6399

Her first contact with water was when she was 2 years old: she fell at the sailing club her family frequented and almost drowned. I don’t really understand why, but in the moment, she fell in love. Her family moved to Portugal and she went to beach all the time, and even though the North Atlantic is always freezing, her mother only could take her way from the ocean when her lips were blue.

When they moved back, she was 5 and my grandfather gave her a snorkel and a pair of fins. The sea became her playground, but she lived in a city without beaches. Every year during summer, they went to their beach house on vacation and she played in the waves for hours and hours.

She was a swimmer from age 14 until 24 and then she started to sail until age 31, always competing and traveling because of it. She always tells me one of her favorite trip to Japan in 1984.imagensA޺midas2016-6460

Since then, bodysurfing is her passion. Her life is all around it. She works so she can go on trips to surf with other people, meet new styles and learn how to be better.

We live in Garopaba, where she raised me. It’s a small city, famous for the good waves in Santa Catarina, Brazil. She has a gym, and the place is just amazing – with two swimming pools, both heated, one 25m and the other of 8m and a dancing room. She teaches kids and adults to swim, and everything is just lovely.

There aren’t any other bodysurfers around here, so it’s kinda hard to explain what we do – people are always closed to “new” things. Even though bodysurf is as old as surf itself. It is also nice, because as a small town, sometimes there is just us out there, the beach and the waves just for us.imagensA޺midas2016-6496

At the south of Brazil, we have all kinds of weather. The seasons are very different from each other. Sometimes the water is cold like in California. In summer it is hot as Costa Rica. Still, it is an amazing place.

I’m always grateful for my mother choosing this city to live. The waves are great. We are about ten minutes from our favorite beach, Silveira. The beaches are between hills. If the wind comes from the south, we are going to surf on the south side of the beach, protected from the wind.

The north side of Silveira is excellent for bodysurfing. When it’s big, there are a lot of tubes but the wave is really fast. In the south, the wave opens more and is slower so you can think more.

Briguitte loves the south, thank god – the north is all mine!

I’m amazed by everything my mother has done – but bodysurfing is what makes her the happiest. The way this sport makes people feel is out of this world. Thank you for sharing this love!