The best surfers from more than 32 countries are meeting in the perfect warm waves of Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica, to decide the winner of Team World Gold medal, as well as the ISA world champions in the Open Men, Open Ladies and Longboard divisions.
Billabong prides itself on being the most cosmopolitan of all the surfing events, attracting athletes from the four corners of the world.
The Billabong ISA World Surfing Games began in 1964 under the name ISF World Championships run by the International Surfing Federation, the first surfing international organization in history. In 1976 the ISF gave way to the ISA.
In 1996, a year after the ISA was recognized by the International Olympic Committee, its President, Fernando Aguerre, proposed a name change to World Surfing Games. He also created the Sands of the World Ceremony and the Parade of the Nations, to highlight the importance of the union of nations through surfing.
This is the first time in history that a Central American country has hosted the event and Costa Rica is the perfect choice.
So why Costa Rica?
Costa Rica, which translates literally as “Rich Coast”, was the first country in the world to constitutionally abolish its army. It has consistently been among the top Latin American countries in the Human Development Index. It’s ranked 5th in the world, and 1st among the Americas, in terms of the 2008 Environmental Performance Index. In 2007 the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbon neutral country by 2021. According to the New Economics Foundation, Costa Rica ranks first in the Happy Planet Index and is the greenest country in the world. The HPI measures how much of the Earth’s resources nations use and how long and happy a life their citizens enjoy as a result.
And there’s great surf and howling monkeys. So why not Costa Rica!!!
Billabong, one of the greatest surfwear brands in the planet, is the new official event sponsor. Billabong’s trust is a new recognition to the ISA-sanctioned championships, providing additional promotion resources to the ISA’s work for a better surfing future.
The format of the event has changed after the announcement that the bodyboarders will have their own Bodyboarding World Championship. The teams will include eight athletes of which four are Open Men, two Open Girls and two longboarders. Additionally each teams includes Managers, Coaches and other technical staff.
The world champs of the last event in Costa de Caparica, Portugal, October 2008 were:
- Open: CJ Hobgood (USA)
- Women: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
- Longboard: Matthew Moir (RSA)
- Bodyboard: Marcus Lima (BRA)
- Bodyboard Women: Natasha Sagardia (PRI)
At the end of Day 5 in Costa Rica, Billabong’s update on the current situation is as follows:
“Big surf powerhouses Hawaii, Australia, France and the USA all placed Longboard team members into the next round, making up for costly losses inflicted yesterday. Both Hawaiians Kekoa Uemura and Bonga Perkins advanced to the next round after Hawaii lost two of its stars in Tuesday’s final eliminations elevating them into 3rd place with 16,960 points. The Americans and Australians also advanced both their longboarders, and are in a first place deadlock with 19,080 points each. France was helped hugely by early wins from both their Longboard teammates, but South Africa and Costa Rica were hurt when their men did not make the cut. Brazil and Costa Rica are neck and neck with 15,890 and 15,640 respective points.(I have to admit I hesitated printing Poo’s comment because of the lovely potential misinterpretation!)
Unexpected wins from complete dark horses were still a frequent result in the repercharge heats. Great Britain got both their men through, and surprise chargers like Tahiti and Argentina are also qualified. Bombshell surprise Mexico blasted through two repercharges and still fighting to make the next round. “The deciding factor for me was doing some really big floaters” said Tzabui Poo, from Mexico. “Earlier I was falling when I tried them, but in this heat I went big and landed them!”
The biggest upset of the day was Dieter Gerards from Cologne, Germany, who made it through round 1 and 2 of the main event.
“I’m really amazed that I was able to beat to Brazil and Tahiti,” said a still stunned Gerards. “Ten minutes went by without a wave late in the heat – but I stayed calm, waiting for the waves and watching the other surfers very carefully. When a good wave finally came my way I just tried to do put it all together,” said Gerards.”
Here’s a long, but mesmerising video from josemarketing showing us some of the action out there at the moment…