This years event was held in Ericeira, Portugal. 12 years on from the first Vans Joel Tudor Duct Tape Invitational, the 18th edition saw the youngest competitor in the Men’s Division, Kaniela Stewart from Waikiki, win it outright in his first attempt, with Californian young gun Kai Takayama taking second.

In the Women’s Brazil’s Chloé Calmon took the victory, with both Chloe and Kani pocketing US $8000 each – perhaps signaling a changing of the guard among the total 32 Duct Tape Invitees.

Among a jam-packed Euro comp circuit of low ranked QS’ and drawn out CT’s, the three-day extravaganza that is the DT is a breath of fresh air.

RESULTS OF THE FINALS:

Men’s 
1st – Kaniela Stewart
2nd – Kai Takayama
3rd – Alex Knost
4th – Troy Mothershead

Women’s 
1st – Chloé Calmon
2nd – Karina Rozunko
3rd – Justine Mauvin
4th – Makala Smith

Everything about the format is geared at good times, for both the surfers and spectators, who turned out in their droves.

Highlights include; mid-morning first calls that leave lovers of late night revelry unpunished, live music and shaping events, the chance to demo boards crafted by the Vans team and a mid-day beer and food break.

Then of course there’s the action in the water. Where the honour and prize money associated with a win, plus the wads of cash up for grabs for the best-shared wave and most smashed up board – and the live loud-speaker critique from the event’s iconic host – all converge to ensure nothing but the most entertaining surfing goes down between the buzzers.

That was exactly what was served up by the hand-picked roster, who were parachuted in by Vans from all four corners of the globe, ensuring the event is not only open to those with big contracts, but rather anyone with the talent to catch Joel’s eye.

The biggest stories came squarely from the young Hawaiians and the women. In the latter category, the event served as a demonstration of just how much female surfing flourishes when women are afforded equal everything.

Staggered heats saw them sent out in the best conditions, where their surfing was equally celebrated, equally critiqued and earned an equal prize purse at the end of it all.

The four women’s finalists represented the very best of contemporary logging; power on rail from Makala Smith, absurd poise from Justine Mauvin, technical prowess, including switch nose rides and fins first take-offs from runner up Karina Rozunko and faultless footwork and flow from winner Chloe Calmon.

In the men’s final Californian veterans Alex Knost and Troy Mothershead faced off against Hawaiian teenagers Kai Takayama and Kaniela Stewart in a 30 minute heat full of nods to the past and glimpses of the future.

While Knost focussed on big carves and Mothershead picked off bombs out the back, Stewart kept busy, finding the nose for a series of long, critical hang tens. While Takayama looked similarly electric, Stewart found the better waves and with a few hang heels and switch re-entry exclamation points added to his rides, it was he who secured a clear victory.

Outside of the water, highlights included epic musical performances from Lee Ann Curren and Kepa, the premiere of Nathan Fletcher’s impressive new biopic Heavy Water and a loose closing party at La Point surf camp, with excellent DJ sets from Bonatella Versace, Shit Disco and skate legend John Cardiel.

photos and most imagery from: wavelengthmag.com