The beautiful Playa Venao in Panama is host to 200 surfers from 27 countries. Peru are the current holders of the title and will be determined to hang onto it against a strong challenge from the rest of the world. The Australians as always have a strong team, as do the French, South Africans and Americans.
The Aussies actually hold the record for the most wins and their team this year includes former Open Men’s Gold Medalist Mick Campbell, 2010 Longboard medalist Harley Ingleby and 2003 ISA World Junior Champion Jessi Miley-Dyer. Jeremy Flores is France’s biggest name along with recently crowned ISA World Junior Surfing Champion Cannelle Bulard and 2009 ISA Longboard World Champion Antoine Delpero so they are strong contenders. And never rule out the South Africans. They have a strong Open Men and Women team, along with two-time ISA Longboard World Champion, Matthew Moir. Not forgetting Taihiti and New Zealand who will both be determined to get their names on the champion board.
And Peru, the defending champion of the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games, has Sofía Mulanovich and Gabriel Villarán on their team – two of their top surfing stars who will be determined to hang onto that trophy.
For the next 7 days Playa Venao, 5 hours southwest of Panama city, is going to be capital of the surfing world!
The waves at Playa Venao, depending on the tide, can be hollow beach-break barrels, perfectly rippable for both left and right handers. It has a sand-bottom beach break and bordered as it is to the north by the Caribbean Sea, to the south by the Pacific Ocean, to the east by Colombia and to the west by Costa Rica, it catches just about any swell – an ideal location for an event of this stature.
The best choice of long rides should be from mid to high tide…
What was I saying about New Zealand? They have had a blistering start and every member of their team has got through to the second round. Paige Hareb, who came second at this event last year, won the first round comfortably, but it came at a cost. After a spectacular performance she injured her leg on the shallow sand shore-break. But will that take her out of the competition? Not a bit of it… “No way will I forfeit my next heat – there are too many heats to surf in the repechage rounds,” she said, “I would prefer to get another injection so I feel less pain while out in the water.”
That’s the spirit! Good luck everyone.