Wavelength sat down with Joel Tudor in Rio to talk through the Vans Duct Tape Invitational, the state of longboarding, and why it’s all about the party.
Over a decade ago, Joel Tudor created the Vans Duct Tape Invitational. The two-time World Longboarding Champion wanted to create an event platform that showcased style and creativity through traditional logging.
Since then, it has morphed into a classic surf festival atmosphere, held in iconic venues around the world. The aim remains the same; to bring together an international collective of people inspired by surfing and to celebrate progression and creativity in surf culture within a local community.
The latest edition was held in Macumba Beach, Rio De Janeiro. We were on hand to chronicle an event that saw equal measures of sun, swell, and good times. Could there be a better spot to play host to the self-titled ‘anti-christ of surf contests’ than the City of God itself?
The antithesis of a regular surf contest, there was a cash prize for the best shared wave, a family feel among competitors and as much focus on the party as the points. Caipirinha induced hangovers didn’t leave a mark on the surfing, with a selection of the world’s best longboarders making sizeable and challenging conditions look easy. It was not. Needless to say, not a leash in sight.
Now this is Tudor’s baby, and he holds the creative reigns and the invitee list. Never afraid of telling the world how he sees surfing, he remains an honest, sometimes controversial, but pivotal cultural curator of the sport. Wavelength caught up with Joel in Rio, held up a microphone, and let him rip. These are his unfiltered thoughts on The Duct Tape, longboarding, and surfing in general.
“Most Of The World Doesn’t Like Longboarding.”
Most of the world doesn’t like longboarding, and I hate to say it, but it has gotten worse over time. And so there’s not a lot of communal events where we can have like-minded conversations, talk through equipment and hang out. It’s about storytelling, and the Duct Tape brings that person-to-person interaction. You can hang out without security. It’s not closed off, the competitors’ area is open, there’s no security, and the surfers have to be selfless and mingle and hang out.
“The Aim Is To Have One Contest That They Will Remember Forever.”
The afterparty is more important than the actual event. You gotta have fun. Going out and dancing in Rio, there’s not much more fun than that. There’s gotta be one night where all that comes into play. The aim is to have this younger generation have one contest that they will remember forever. Not just a shitty event with a shitty trophy where you get sunburned and go home.
“We Are The Anti-Christ of Surf Contests.”
We made a decision not to have the event televised or with a webcast. That costs a lot of money and nobody watches it anyway. I’d rather put that money into the prize purse, and spend it on bringing people over that really want to be a part of it, like you guys. We are the anti-christ of surf contests. We could have more entrants and entry fees, but we aren’t here to make a dime. We are here to give back; to the surfers and the local community.
“This Duct Tape Was a Wake-up Call For Design.”
This event was a reminder that there is a lot more to longboarding than nose riding. You have to dig deep and do your homework and come up with some different designs. Everyone is on the same type of board and that is limiting once waves get over a certain size like they did here in Rio. This Duct Tape was a wake-up call for design and that competitors probably need two boards; a gunny one for size and a boat if it’s small. If you don’t have the right design, you are cutting off your feet before you start.
“If You Get Smoked, You Get Smoked.”
The surfing level rises every Duct Tape we have. It’s a hand-picked field, which is among the best of the best. I see surfers who rock up for the first time and suddenly see what they are up against. It’s easy from afar, but when you surf against Harry Roach or Alex Knost, shit gets real. And with a narrowed down field, there is a small window. There are no second chances, or round robins. If you lose, you lose. If you get smoked, you get smoked. People are always sending me clips of longboarders to get them invites. The problem with longboarding right now is that if they think they can hang ten on some big ol’ cheater board, you are at an elite level. Those people aren’t even close at all.
Muito obrigado, Rio.
Once the final wave was ridden, Avalon Gall and Justin Quintal were crowned as champions in front of a rapturous Rio crowd. And then the party, after the party, after the party began. Muito obrigado Joel, muito obrigado Rio.
Vans Duct Tape Invitational 2023 – Rio De Janeiro – Results:
1. Avalon Gall
2. Mahina Akaka
3. Kelis Kaleopa’a
4. Kate Brandi
1. Justin Quintal
2. Stevie Sawyer
3. Alex Knost
4. John Michael Van Hohenstein
📷 Vans/@jimmicane & Wavelength
🎥 Vans Brasil & Wavelength