Stab Magazine | "Well They Won't Be Able To Complain There Weren't Waves"
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“Well They Won’t Be Able To Complain There Weren’t Waves”

A final’s day to remember at the Duct Tape Festival in Zarautz!

style // May 22, 2018
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

“You know how the Grateful Dead had, like, the posse traveling with them?” Tanner Gudauskas asked as we walked in from a surprisingly fun session early this afternoon in Zarautz.   

“I feel like that’s how the Duct Tape is. There’s like that revolving crew. We’re like Duct Tapers, and you can sort of pick people out, and kinda wonder.”

Joel and the Duct Tape apostles were smart to wait out the low tide, after running the first rounds with significantly more swell in the water than everyone’s favorite forecasting site predicted. 

Looking in at the crowds lining the promenade for Final’s Day at the 15th Duct Tape Invitational, it sure looked like Vans’ traveling franchise had picked up its fair share of followers. After a month of rain here in the Basque Country, the bluebird weekend’s heat spell has had the town gloriously dressed down, enjoying the festival’s more than mellow vibe, and not a jaded bone nor un-tanned body on the beach. 

 

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The morning of the Finals, Duct Tape Festival Zarautz, 2018.

Photography

Jimmy WIlson

“Well, they won’t be able to complain there weren’t waves,” said a visibly thrilled Joel Tudor this AM, as he gave words of encouragement to the youngsters paddling out in their first Duct Tape heats, pointing out the right rip bowl to Saxon Wilson, Kai Takayama, Nathan Sayoun and others, as they struggled to decide which side was the front, and which the back of their singlets, two out of three getting it wrong, adorably. 

After the first round excitement this AM, Joel and the boys packed it in until the high tide swing, the Zarautz locals insisting the afternoon and early evening’s conditions would be ideal for the last three heats of the day. With a six-hour break in between, the beach scene devolved into a massive sprawl of roasting olive skin, big groups  laid out in the sand or on the pathway, or up in the massive cafe patio overlooking the whole scene, very content with their Sunday afternoon, indeed.

With the tide filling in quickly, as it’s wont to do here in the land of double-digit tide swings, the semifinals got underway in playful, punchy beachbreak, the sandbars littered with chest-high peaks, closeout sets a bit bigger, and an auditorium vibe to the whole affair, what with the elevation viewers enjoy from the promenade, the energy in the crowd palpable as the boys put on a show. 

 

 

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Zack Flores.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

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Alex Knost, cheater-five through the inside sandbank at Zarautz.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

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Joel Tudor, sending the boys into the brine for the final.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

After straight-up battles, Ryan Burch (“the most well-rounded surfer in the world,” according to Papa Tudor), Alex Knost, Tyler Warren and San Clemente screwfoot Andy Nieblas stole the show and rounded out the finals. 

While Knost and Burch looked like favorites to win, with three- to four-foot Zarautz looking a lot like Nieblas’ beloved San Onofre, you could almost feel the upset coming. Like in his Expression Session-winning performance yesterday, Andy wiggled his way through his deep repertoire of impossibly bent noserides and switch-stance variations that had the massive Sunday crowd on their feet and cheering. 

After a buzzer-beater party wave between Knost and Tyler Warren—which netted the old friends a couple grand for Best Shared Wave—Dane Reynolds greeted Knost in the competitor’s booth with a hug. 

“I didn’t expect it to end so dramatically,” Dane told Knost. 

Tudor took to the stage to announce the results, thanking the Basque community for their thorough embrace this last week. With Burch and Warren taking fourth and third, respectively, Knost’s second-place announcement had not only the crowd, but Joel and all three competitors howling with pride in their dear friend Andy Nieblas’ well-deserved win. 

“I’ve got the jitters, I was so nervous,” Nieblas admitted, before thanking the Basque Country for their incredible hospitality this week. 

 

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Andy Nieblas, your 2018 Duct Tape Invitational Champion.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

As the crowd scattered into Zarautz, the Duct Tapers, as Tanner would call them, hopped a bus south through Gueteria, winding up into the lush green hills to a txakoli vineyard straight out of an Audi commercial, for a 100+ person winery tour and four-course meal overlooking a pastoral scene that had the rookie Duct Tape invitees, Zack Flores, Kai Takayama, and Saxon Wilson dumbstruck, their first trip to Europe wrapping in style.

Winding back into Zarautz late Sunday night, Vans team manager and host with the most Nolan Hall played DJ for Dane, Burch, Knost, Warren and co., the Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” ringing out into the Basque hills. 

As the 15th Duct Tape incarnation closed, Tudor—both the event and modern logging’s pater familias—was sincere when he admitted, “This might have been the best Duct Tape ever.” 

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Rubberman Alex Knost in his preheat position.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

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Andy Nieblas and Alex Knost.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

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Dane Reynolds and Ryan Heywood.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

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Alex Knost.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

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Ryan Burch.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

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Ryan Burch.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson.

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Andy Nieblas.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

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No on was more proud to see Andy Nieblas win the Duct Tape Invitational Zarautz than his fellow competitors.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

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A proper Sunday crowd in Zarautz.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

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Andy Nieblas.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson.

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Joel Tudor, Mikel Urigoitia, Ryan Burch, Alex Knost, Andy Nieblas, and Tyler Warren.

Photography

Jimmy Wilson

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