By MSW's Jim Houghton
With most surf contests, the action happens out in our big blue. Attendants gaze and cheer on their out-of-reach protagonists, boo or praise judges on each decision that drops in, maybe sneak a quick snap of surfing royalty as they jolt to and from the event site. That's all so...formulaic, don't ya think? But this, right here, is no normal surf contest; this is the Vans Duct Tape Invitational, and it couldn't be further from that generic hubbub.
It's the 18th iteration of the Vans Duct Tape Invitational, and boy, does this event sing. This year, it's set in the stunning venue of Ericeira, quite possibly our favourite (and most dazzling) locale in Portugal, of course it's home to a World Surfing Reserve.
What sets the Duct Tape apart is this feeling of accessibility to the athletes – the emphasis has always been on mingling with your favourite surfers, whether that's on the beach, watching them mow foam – Ivan Florence was in the bay with Nathan Fletcher – or sipping a few cervejas with the crew, it all helps add to this unique, connected atmosphere.
That's not to say the surf comp is any less serious though, Kaniela Stewart and Chloe Calmon took top honours, impressing judges with their unique styles and bagging a sizeable $8,000 each. The waves weren't perfect but certainly delivered ample opportunity. Have you ever been to Ribeira d'Illhas? On its day, this place can be full of perfect right handers, and seems to cope with swell all through the tide, it can even manage a bit of funky wind.
Duct Tape Invitational Contest Director and Vans Surf Team Rider Joel Tudor said: “Portugal has been an incredible setting this week for the latest DTI and it was truly inspiring to see so many of the next generation of loggers deliver so much creativity across the two days of competition. Big thanks to the Ericeira community for being so welcoming and letting a bunch of longboarders takeover their beach and enabling surfing style to be at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts.”
As well as the surf comp, Vans sure know how to throw a party. The plaza surrounding the contest was rammed with musicians, shapers, boards – all open for your perusal. It is how an event should be run, a mash of surf-centric activities with an over arching relaxed vibe. Perhaps it's because this is the embodiment of the longboarding ethos? A relaxed festival atmosphere interspersed with moments of pure surfing progression.
Anyway, enough rambling, enjoy some of the behind the scenes highlights from MSW's lensman, Alvaro Fr.