A couple days before The 2018 Digicape Tand Invitational we interviewed one of the best bodyboarders worldwide – Mr. Tristan Roberts, the 2014 Pro Junior World Champion. Four years after this remarkable achievement, the Saffa is bigger, better and really hungry for a new World title. 

Talk a little bit about yourself so our readers can get to know you. Where do you come from, when do you started bodyboarding and what’s like your daily routine? 

I’m a small town kid from Onrusriver, South Africa. Which is situated 120 km from the well known city named Cape Town. This is where I started bodyboarding at age 7 where there was a big bodyboarding community known as the LOC which stands for “The Local Onrus Clang.” These guys pushed me to achieve, they were a really naughty bunch of guys who caused a lot of shit at times. From making the young guys run naked across the beach to bullying us to do whatever they say. But it was also them who pushed me into riding big waves and inspired me to ride as well as they did. This crew had so much potential and I believe there were a few of them who could have been world champion if they pushed themselves to compete. But yeah, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be riding a bodyboard. 

How’s the bodyboarding scene in Cape Town?

The bodyboarding scene in Cape Town is big. There are so many guys who are battling the cold waters and strong offshores and are chasing the waves along the coastline. There are many underground riders who are really talented and I hope that we see many more guys who decide to take on the world tour. 

“Since a kid, I have had my eyes set on lifting that world title trophy above my head”

South Africa has been a well-known nursery for bodyboarding for many years. The recent world titles of Jared and Iain’s got you pumped for such higher achievement?

Look, ever since a kid, I have had my eyes set on lifting that world title trophy above my head. Andre, Jared and Iain have definitely fueled my hunger to achieve it. These guys have showed me the ropes and it’s now up to me to use them and chase my dream. I love bodyboarding, whether it be competitive or free surfing and I feel like I have so much more to experience in the sport and I can’t wait. I’m excited to travel to new destinations and meet new people who share the same love for the sport as I do. 

So far you pointed out two wins on the 2018 World Tour (1 star event in South Africa and a 5 star comp held in Antofagasta, Chile). What’s your goal for the remaining season? 

Well, yeah! I’m frothing to have made 3/4 podiums this year and it has been a great experience. My goal is to chase a world title. That’s what I’m after and I will just go into every heat doing the best I can do. In this sport that’s all we can do. Take on contests heat by heat and just give it your all. 

“I love bodyboarding, whether it be competitive or free surfing and I feel like I have so much more to experience in the sport”

Talk us through your sweetest win ever, when and why?

The best win of my career would have had to be the Men’s World Games Title in Iquique in 2014. Just to think of how many guys I had to beat without the priority system in place. There was so much hustling going down and it was a crazy paddle battle in every heat. It wasn’t only the waves and who was in your heat you had to worry about. It was more worrying to think if you were actually going to catch a wave or if some guy was going to block you all heat and leave you waveless. So, yeah, I was sort of the underdog and just sat and watched guys paddle each other off the peak while I sat on the peak and got given scoring opportunity.

And the toughest defeat? 

Toughest defeat would have to be losing to Iain Campbell in 2016 in the semi final at Arica. Not because of who I lost to, but because he got the winning wave in the heat while I had priority. I decided to let him go and he got the score he needed to win. I was so close to making my first grand slam final and that decision costed me. Iain ripped that final against Moz though and it made me feel better! Hahaha. 

“[PLC] has a effortless approach when doing moves which makes it seem like nothing is forced”

In terms of wave performance, you would say your strengths are…

I think my strengths at this point would definitely have to be beach breaks. It’s what I grew up on and I feel a lot more at home when surfing. I am used to paddling around and trying to find the good ones. Hahaha.

In your opinion, who has the best style in the sport? And why?

It’s difficult to tell as there’s a few things I like about each top rider. But I would have to say the most stylish rider would have to be Pierre-Louis Costes as he has a effortless approach when doing moves which makes it seem like nothing is forced. It’s good to watch. 

“My goal is to chase a world title”

There’s a lack of veterans on the Tour these days. In one way, which new riders are you keen to watch and why? On the other end, which bodyboarders you would like to see competing again?

Yeah it’s a pity to not have the old dogs in the sport and helping us push the level on tour. But I must say I love it when the young guys on tour do well. It’s so sick to see the level of the young guys on tour matching the top guys on tour. Guys like Tanner [McDaniel] and Maxime [Castillo] are definitely up there. 

Final question. Portugal has a series of three events from September to October (Sintra, Viana and Nazare). Are you coming? What’s the Portuguese beach that suits you the best and what do you think of the country’s vibe? 

I most definitely will be in Portugal. I love the vibe there. Portugal always makes bodyboarders seem welcome and it’s really inviting. I love Nazaré. The waves are amazing and the town is really beautiful. The locals are always nice and the pastel de natas and coffee is always a must! I will be doing all three events but I must say that Nazaré is definitely the wave I look most forward to competing at again. 

Photography by Jordan Masters, Simon Heale, Warren Baynes, Allan Horton & Apore de Paula