A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Costa Ricans Sweep ALAS Finals
The 17-year-old won the ninth — and final — ALAS Tour event with steady, controlled maneuvering, in a man-to-man final heat against his own countryman, Jaco’s Luis Vindas.
As a matter of fact, with the exception of Venezuelan Ronald Reyes winning the Longboard category, all of the major divisions were taken by the Ticos: Jaco’s Nataly Bernold won Women’s and Jaco’s Jason Torres scored a trophy for Pro Juniors.
“With the exception of a national contest a while ago, this is my first Open win,” said the diminutive, muscled youngster after receiving a $4,000 winner’s check and his own, giant trophy for the 6-star ALAS triumph.
“When the contest started on Friday, I realized there were a lot of good surfers; I didn’t think I was good enough, but as the contest went on and especially, when it came to competing with our national champion Diego (Naranjo, Jaco), and then Diego Cadena (Mexico), I got nervous. Thank God he gave me the waves and the money because he knows how much I needed both of those things today.”
Against Vindas in the finals, PÃ©rez received accolades for an impressive five off-the-tops on a critical part of a left wave, followed by a snap, an aerial, and a final bottom turn, scoring the highest in the Championship with 8.73 points.
Of course, the other big surprise of the event, was when Jairo defeated the International Surfing Associations’ (ISA) ranked No.13 Cadena in that semifinal heat. Not to mention that the youngster surfed in two finals — Open and Junior categories.
Meanwhile, Vindas defeated the Puerto Rican Gabriel Escudero with his trademark aerials — including once performing two on one wave. With this, he rated the second best average score of the weekend with 16.10 points in the semifinals, and though tough, were a warm-up for the last heat which became “a great final between Ticos to represent the country and Jaco. We live here and we both know the wave.”
The Open tally resulted in PÃ©rez at 1st, Vindas 2nd, Escudero 3rd and Cadena 4th.
Peru ‘s Valeria SolÃ©, also secured her 2007 ALAS Latin & Caribbean Women’s title in Jaco, since her closest competitor, the Peruvian AnalÃ GÃ³mez, didn’t make it to Costa Rica .
Yet, once again, the big news was a Tica — 14-year-old wunderkind Nataly Bernold, who recently moved with her family from Guanacaste’s Tamarindo to Jaco, also making the contest ground her home base.
Bernold began and ended the weekend with great performancesâ€”and the last day of the contest she demonstrated why JosÃ© Urena, President of the Costa Rica Federacion de Surf (FSC) calls her a “contest machine”
She offered excellent rollers and snaps in the critical part of the wave, just what the judges needed to award her 1st place in the Women’s Reef Classic Latin Pro Costa Rica, beating her mentor, 5-time Costa Rican National Women’s Champion and 2-time Central American Women’s Champion Lisbeth Vindas in the 4-women final heat. Vindas took 2nd, SolÃ© was 3rd.
Torres, who holds the only Pan American Surfing Games gold medal for his Junior triumph in 2005, earned the best championship average with a 16.17 on the second day of competition with his Open category score, but bust out of the pack this weekend to win the Pro Juniors at the Reef Classic Latin Pro Costa Rica.
He and friend PÃ©rez were in the final 4-man heat. PÃ©rez won 2nd, the Venezulean Francisco Bellorian placed 3rd, with Chilean Manuel Selman 4th. Selman became the 3-time ALAS Pro Junior Champion.
The 2007 ALAS Latin & Caribbean Longboard Champion is MartÃn PÃ©rez. The awards ceremony will be in January, in the ALAS TOUR 2008 first stop.
NOTE: For more information on Costa Rican surfers or the Federacion de Surf de Costa Rica, please go to www.surfingcr.net.