The Olympics of Surf Coming to Costa Rica
By: Costa Rica Pages (Original here)
The Billabong ISA World Surfing Games 2009 will be hosted in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica this August 1-8, 2009. The event, which will bring together the best surfers in the world in an Olympic-style competition, is set to be the biggest surfing championship ever held in Central America. The honor of hosting the 8th ever World Surfing Games is expected to solidify Costa Rica’s reputation as one of the world’s best up and coming surf destinations.
Last year’s competition, which took place in Costa de Caparica, Portugal, saw a turn out of more than 200 competitors from 28 countries. The Costa Rican team shined with their highest ranking ever, coming in 5th place at the event. The number of surfers and skill level is expected to increase for this year’s competition, which was scheduled to correspond with Hermosa’s peak surf season with waves ranging from four to eight feet with perfect barrels. The team to beat is four-time ISA Surfing Games champion, Australia, who racked up Gold medals in the last three consecutive events.
In August, each country will be represented by up to four surfers in the men’s Open category, two surfers in the women’s Open category and two long boarders. Costa Rica’s national team of eight surfers will be officially announced two days before the competitions begin. They will be selected from a short list of the country’s best surfers that have already begun training for the event.
This list features Carlos Muñoz, the 16-year-old who just won his first national championship in the men’s open division at the National Surf Circuit finals that also took place at Playa Hermosa. Joining him on the list are Diego Naranjo, Gilbert Brown, Jairo Perez, Jason Torres, Juan Carlos Naranjo, Cristian Santamaría, Anthony Flores and Luis Vindas in the men’s Open and long board categories. Two of the following women will also have the honor of representing Costa Rica: current National women’s champion Nataly Bernold, Lisbeth Vindas and Mariana Samudio.
The Costa Rican team also racked up a Bronze medal in last year’s surfing games in a special tag-team event called “Aloha Cup”. After coming in 10th place in this year’s World Junior Surfing Games in Ecuador, it is clear that Costa Rica has a strong future ahead of it in international surf competitions.
The president of the Costa Rica Federation of Surf (FSC – the hosts of the event) Jose Ureña said “I’m really happy for the opportunity that ISA and Billabong have given to us. To be hosts of this event is a like dream, to have so many countries enjoying our waves. It’s a unique occasion for us.”
Ureña hopes the event will help to further promote Costa Rica tourism, and particularly surf tourism to the region by putting the country’s waves on display for the global press. He also commented that local press has not covered the country’s international competitions in the past, so hosting the Surfing Games will help to increase local exposure as well.
The fact that Billabong is sponsoring this year’s event for the first time was also a big break for Costa Rica and the surfing world. Brand representative Graham Stapelberg promoted the decision to host the games in Costa Rica, saying: “I believe it is vital to provide a platform for these emerging surf regions. It is the only event of its kind where you get such a large representation of so many different surf nations”.
Playa Hermosa is seemingly endless volcanic sand beach set 5 minutes south of the popular tourist destination of Jaco, and about two hours from the capital city of San Jose and the country’s main international airport, Juan Santamaria (SJO). The town itself features low density development, with one side of the town’s only road left untouched. The nearby town of Jaco offers more plentiful lodging options, though reservations must be made in advance.
The cost of a taxi from the airport to Jaco can vary between $80 and $150. Private shuttles can be arranged in advance, or public bus tickets can be purchased in down town San Jose at the Coca Cola bus terminal.
The competition will take place on the beach break in front of Hotel Terraza del Pacifico, at the north end of Hermosa. August conditions feature southern swells with waves averaging 4 to 8 feet in the warm Pacific waters. The month is considered to be part of the Costa Rica rainy season, with sporadic rain showers expected throughout the week of competition.
July 28-30: Team registration
July 31: Parade of Nations/ Opening Ceremony
August 1: Competition begins.
August 5: Start of Open Longboard
August 8: Contest ends/ Closing Ceremony
Past Competition Hosts and Winners
2008: Costa de Caparica, Portugal — Australia
2006: Huntington Beach, United States — Australia
2004: Salinas, Ecuador — Australia
2002: Durban, South Africa — South Africa
2000: Maracaípe, Brazil — Brazil
1998: Carcavelos, Portugal — Australia
1996: Huntington Beach, United States — U.S.A.