A couple of weeks back we covered this insane session at a Portuguese slab. This wave is no joke; it is a grower, a juggernaut that goes from 3ft to macking in a matter of seconds – and as you can imagine, takes a whole load of mental fortitude to get it right and then to surf it well.
Perhaps one of the standouts at this slab over the past few sessions is a relatively unknown charger, 24-year-old Afonso Bandhold, and as you can see from the vid below, he paddled wonderfully into one of the bombs of the day.
Now, a couple days ago, those legends over at Brusco, a company helmed by Nic Von Rupp, got in touch and said they wanted to present Afonso with a package, honouring him as their #chargerofthemonth and we thought; hell yeah, we're all about shining a light on those unsung heroes and moments. So here it is, your inaugural charger of the month award -- made possible by Nic Von Rupp and Brusco.
"Our whole idea was to give credit and recognition to those underground chargers that constantly search for the best and heaviest waves in the Atlantic Ocean," said Nic. "We want to inspire people to push their limits and there is no better example than these guys that put their lives on the line only for the pure love of surfing. This inspires me everyday and I believe it will also inspire the younger generations."
As a bonus, we also tapped up Afonso to talk this all through. Stay tuned for more.
Talk us through that session? Wave looked crazy...
Yeah that session was definitely pumping, as per usual the crew out there were familiar faces. The bodyboarders Francisco Horta, Luís Pereira, Pedro Levi, Steph Kokorelis, João André, Miguel Coelho, António Saraiva, Daniel Fonseca, Maxime Castillo and Hugo Pinheiro.
Then the surfers you had Guilherme Fonseca, Miguel Blanco, Nic Von Rupp, Pedro Booman, two other surfers I can't identify and me. At this particular wave, whether you're a surfer or a bodyboarder everyone just gets along.
How long were you in the water before this wave came along?
I paddled out at 7:30am, caught a good one early but wiped out on the drop and while the crew started to join the lineup I gathered myself up and started to focus, about an hour later I managed to sneak that wave under the pack and had the ride of my life.
Looked like, grab rail, set the line and hope to just whip out the end, how did it feel?
Indeed it was! I think I could've been a bit deeper but I was just very happy to have made it successfully to the channel, no beating required.
The drop was easier than usual. The wave did not suck up instantly so it gave me time to set my line from the beginning, after the drop I tried to stall so I could enjoy the view more, but it was tricky managing my speed since when I felt my fins engage the board started flying.
And what was going through your mind as you started paddling?
Honestly I don't quite remember exactly what was going through my mind because I was really focused, I remember the moment I saw the wave I knew that I was in the spot, so I just paddled as hard as I could and went. I remember after I made it I thanked my brain for not glitching in the process.
You’ve been charging too, what kind of waves do you prefer to surf?
I really love barrels so any wave with that characteristic is my go to, just to be travelling inside the wave along with its energy in motion, there's nothing like it, no ride is alike and it's beautiful.
But nowadays I like to surf anything. I like to give it a try, of course some days I don't feel it, but I try to be out there as much as I can. Even if there's no surf, just going for a freedive is enjoyable and peaceful.
And any go to boards you swear by?
Well, currently I only have a Pyzel 6'8” Tank. It's my go to for the slab, my other three boards are currently getting fixed.
I have been surfing for 14 years and only now I feel like I really know what I like under my feet, might be due to the fact that I finally stopped growing [laughs] so I can finally catch up with body/board dimensions without tweaking as much.
I'm 6'4 now so finding something that would fit me from the beginning was tricky considering my body would change after a year. I have tried a couple different boards from different brands and the Pyzel Ghost and the Dylan Predator are always a good bet for good waves. Curiously, the Tank was getting fixed by the time that swell arrived in November and all I had for heavier waves was the 6´3” Predator model which worked out pretty good.
For those who don’t know, Portugal’s had an interesting season – what has been some of the highlights?
For sure we have been spoiled this winter, the slab was definitely more consistent this season so that's the highlight of the season for me, it was surprising seeing it break three days in a row and live up to the hype.
There have been a lot of good days all over the coast, where I'm from there hasn't been a shortage of swell too and by the looks of it more on the way next week.
You’re the first winner of the inaugural charger of the month competition – how do you feel about that?
Yeah! I think it's a great initiative for every underground charger out there. You just have to paddle out and do your thing, if your wave gets chosen you get a prize – sick.