Bitter Sweet with Wilder Schultz
We Caught up with Wilder Schultz after his South American leg of the APB Tour. It was a difficult one for Wilder so we were interested to hear from Wilder and a little behind the scenes of what really went on with our Red Friend......
Bitter Sweet by Wilder Schultz
I was real excited for this South American trip. It being my second year making this venture I was feeling excited and keen to redeem myself after a pretty unsuccessful first trip. This however is not how the story goes, instead of the ideal turn of events where I miraculously win my first tour event in pumping waves it is the story of me doing just as bad in the events and how I deal with those situations.
The first destination in this trip was Brazil and it being a Portuguese country I found real cheap flights on Angolan airlines, at first I was a bit suspect to this as it was ridiculously cheaper than other options and also not such a popular airline, but after consulting some friends of mine that have traveled with them in the past and could confirm that the planes had two wings and functioning engines I booked my tickets with them and even convinced a few of the others traveling to Brazil to hop on the bandwagon with me and book tickets on the same flight. After two flights what can we say, we didn’t just arrive on time with all our bags, the flights and planes were extremely pleasant and well maintained and I would for sure recommend them to anyone.
I was so stoked to be back in tropical Brazil eating Acai bowls again! We arrived in amazing, warm weather a day before the trials of the event started. I was seeded into the second round of trials which meant I didn’t surf on the first day of competition and had a day to relax and free surf a little bit. The conditions weren’t great but kind of what you expect in Brazil. I was still pretty rattled from last year’s interference call I received in my last round of trials and giving my advancing position away. I had that playing in the back of my mind but I tried to block it out and went into the heat and gave it my best, but in the two foot shorebreak close out my best wasn’t enough and I got knocked out in my first heat. It felt like my whole trip had ended before it even started. Luckily, I was surrounded by the best crew you could hope for and was helped to realize that there were still two events to make up for it and amazing forecasts for waves to free surf in. I still had two weeks left in this tropical and foreign country surrounded by these great people, ranging from lifelong friends to childhood heroes. I put on a brave face and went down the beach the next day and pressed the reset button. The rest of my time in Brazil was spent supporting the rest of “The Squad” in the main event, acai, beach days, pool games, free-surfs, sight seeing, acai, hikes, mental feeds and more acai.
Next we were off to Arica in Chile and with its reputation it’s pretty much the one place on tour where you can bank on the fact that there will be waves, especially with the forecast we had seen leading up to it. We arrived a few days before the start of the event and checked into our Hotel, the Casa Beltran. This leg of the trip I would share a room with fellow saffa, Tristan Roberts which resulted in the drastic increase in the strength of my patience and also my interest of MMA and boxing. Jokes aside, he is a great dude and we had a good time. We had a few early morning surfs leading up to the beginning of the competition in slightly bumpy but real fun conditions at Flopos or better known as El Gringo. The first day of the trials was the day this massive swell was supposed to arrive. I woke up that morning and saw that I had lost my round two seed due to my poor performance in Brazil and had been pushed back into round one. I walked down early in the morning for my heat. As I arrived at the contest sight it was beginning to get light enough to see the waves and it was disappointing to say the least at what I saw, it was not the massive swell that was predicted, nor was it offshore like the mornings before. Instead it was a rather firm onshore with one-foot wind swell lapping up onto the rocks of Isla Alacran, almost as if the ocean had pulled back all its energy before sending it to us much later that afternoon. After mentally prepping myself for surfing massive and potentially life threatening waves for the past few days I was pretty rattled to see this. My heat was 6th of the day which gave me time to watch it and convince myself it was getting better. By the time I had paddled out it was maybe a foot bigger, but despite my physical efforts I surfed a stupid heat, I was controlled by the other two competitors in my heat and was not prepared to surf a heat of the mental capacity. I had experienced another first round knock out. It was hard dealing with this one as it was not the waves you come to Arica for and realizing how mentally terribly I surfed.
The rest of my time in Arica was pretty great, the Squad was all staying together in the Casa Beltran Hotel which meant we were constantly adventuring, sharing meals, laughs and card games together. Watching the rest of the Arica Chilean Challenge unfold was a real treat and the level of riding was unreal! The boys were going ham in some of the most perfect and craziest conditions you could ask for in competitive bodyboarding.
I was feeling motivated for Antofagasta but also slightly relieved of any pressure, almost like I had nothing to lose, what would one more first round knock out be? I had created a healthy mental state for myself out of this pretty negative situation I was in and was feeling ready for this event. The waves were looking fun and before I paddled out for my first heat I felt different to how I had felt before any of my other heats, I won that heat and progressed through my first heat of the trip. This roll carried on before I was faced with the super heat of the trials. It was myself, David Barbosa, Nelson Flores and Yoshua Toledo and despite these big names I felt like I had already made the heat. It was quite a slow heat and with ten minutes left I was sitting with the highest single score just looking for a score to back it up with. I waited a couple minutes with first priority and with the signs of a set rolling through my ears perked up and I started to get myself in position. It was the biggest set of the heat and was peaking slightly deeper than usual so I put my head down and started paddling towards the outside only to hear one of the other riders hooting at me and trying to call me off the wave so I looked back more in shock and confusion than in concern of getting another interference to my name, but as I turned back to see what was going on I didn’t see the wave stand up further down the line from me leaving me still to deep to make the wave, I was now too committed to this wave to be able to pull out and I had to go on the wave and get washed down the point. This left me in fourth priority for the rest of the heat scrapping for a mere score of a 3.9. I only managed to get a 3.5 and got knocked out in the round before main event. This one stupid mistake ended my chances of making a South American main event and ended my competitive trip once and for all. The realization of this sent me back down into pretty devastated mind space. I wasn’t prepared to go another whole leg of the tour without making a main event, and again, I had to put on a brave face and commentate a couple heats, support the boys and just pretend that it wasn’t killing me that I wasn’t in those heats being commentated or that it wasn’t me putting on the rashy again and getting cheered on by the boys.
The rest of the contest went down in some really testing conditions but the riders still made it seem very contestable and still quite pleasurable to watch. It was crazy to see Iain Campbell surf his way in to his third consecutive podium finish of the trip and Alan Muñoz surf a perfect heat getting scored twenty out of twenty.
Although it was a real testing trip I still had a great time and learnt a hell of a lot. It was now coming to an end and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to get home. I began my journey home with a super stressful start, forgetting my cellphone in the taxi at the Antofogasta airport but thanks to the help of some super helpful locals I managed to retrieve in relatively easily and carry on with my travels. Three flights later I was back in Rio De Janeiro where I would return to Itacoatiara for two nights and refuel myself on Acai. It was the end of a pretty big storm swell and I managed to have a couple of real fun surfs and break my journey home up quite nicely.
The two flights, from Rio to Luanda and then Luanda to Cape Town, seemed to breeze by and before I had finished my third inflight movie we were beginning our decent towards Cape Town International. My first day home I spent having lunch with my parents and then going out for dinner with a few of my closest friends. That was followed though by a week of revamping and moving my boss’ house and just cruising my city again waiting for some swell and good winds to arrive.
As forecasted, it came! Friday we traveled North and scored a pretty pumping and uncrowded day at our favourite slab, Tand. The next day the swell jacked and the winds swung 180 and we scored our favourite summer beachy. Sunday we went back up north but slightly further this time to enjoy the warm berg winds and isolated beaches and the amazing waves that come with that!
Now it is back to the drawing board though. Where I will take all the mistakes I’ve made, lessons I’ve learnt, and experiences I've been through and focus on them and use them to come back on the European leg of the APB Tour a better version of myself.
Thanks to my sponsors HandPicked and Zion SA for the backing they give me to do the world tour, to The Squad for the unreal support and good times on tour, the APB for the hard work they do to pull off these events and of course to mom and dad!
Next up Europe!