A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Brown Takes Costa Rica Surf Crown
COSTA RICA — “We did it, now the pressure is over,” said Gilbert Brown, after he claimed the Costa Rica national surf championship at the Circuito Nacional de Surf (CNS) Gran Final Terraza-REEF in front of over 1,000 people in Playa Hermosa.
The Puerto Viejo surfer’s win, naturally hard fought, came after seven contests in five-months at six-beaches of Costa Rica’s CNS, and took place this past Friday in good conditions of three to five foot waves in front of Hotel Terraza del Pacifico in Playa Hermosa.
The final heat included Jaco’s Luis Vindas, who not only made top-ranked Brown work the last two dates of the Circuito by winning the Playa Carmen and Dominal tournaments, he closed the ranking points at number two. Yet, Vindas choked: After hitting the rocks at Terraza, he had to borrow an inferior surfboard to complete the final heat.
Then, even with a couple of extraordinary wave rides scored high by the judges, Vindas interfered against Brown that resulted in the judges taking away one of those high-scoring waves. That interference blunder pushed Diego Naranjo, the 2007-08 CNS National Champion to first place in the CNS Gran Final Terraza-REEF, Brown to second, Vindas to third, and Jairo PÃ©rez to fourth.
Even with Naranjo winning the day and the individual contest, that still gave Brown enough points in the five-star event at second place to became the national champion.
With his CNS 2007-08 Championship trophy, Brown has won two Costa Rica National Surf Championship titles; he has the 2001-02 Costa Rican National Surf Championship under his belt as well. Only one other surfer has matched this record. That would be retired competitor Alvaro Solano of Jaco, who has two National Championships: Solano was 2003-04 and 2004-04 CNS National Champion.
“I feel like I’m in heaven,” sighed Brown with the National Championship trophy in hand. “This started way back in the beginning in Hermosa as well when I won that one that it was put in my head that I could do this. Then I won again in Tamarindo, and I made a plan. But, I knew after that it was warming up to be a fight.”
“But I stayed focused and was being consistent. I realized I had to watch my back and both my sides because I knew Luis Vindas could take it all. I prayed to God last night, and this morning before any heat. I knew I was gonna win. Thank God that I did. And I thank all the people and my friends for my support.”
Brown’s win means a lot to JosÃ© UreÃ±a, President of the Federacion de Surf de Costa Rica, as well. “I’m the happiest person because Gilbert won. This time it’s not luck, its life, it’s fair, and it’s someone who puts a lot of effort into his win. It started in Chile (at the Pan American Surfing Games) when Gilbert made it into the finals and made it to third place and (the National Team) all gave him our support.”
“He’s been confident since then. That makes a person stronger to know he’s got a team behind him. Gilbert didn’t travel this year so he could make sure he had this title behind him. If Luis hadn’t made those mistakes we’d have a different result, but I think we closed the Circuito perfectly.”
UreÃ±a was quick to point out that Brown wasn’t the only champion to return to the spotlight this year. Lisbeth Vindas indeed excelled at the CNS Gran Final Terraza-REEF, despite also coming in second place in the individual contest behind first place winner Nataly Bernold (Jaco).
Again, the points accumulated in the 5-star contest as a second place trophy winner were enough to sustain her No. 1 ranking in the Women’s category and she reclaimed her National Women’s Surf Championship title for the sixth time, after letting it dust off for two years.
“This year was hard,” Lisbeth explains. “At every single contest something happened I had a problem — first one I was late getting there because of a test at school, the second I had just been attacked by a crocodile, then one I had driven all night from Panama to arrive and was so tired. All these things meant I had to try really hard to win, and I started competing really well because I really wanted to win.”
“Then at the second contest Laura (Pecoraro) showed up and her presence made me want to try harder to win. And of course, Nataly is surfing really good. Now I made it and I’m really happy to get my title back. I can start the Latin Tour (Asociation Latinamerica de Surfistas Profesionales) with my title under my arm.”
The change in the Junior category is one that is historic. First and foremost is the crowning of 15-year-old Carlos MuÃ±oz of Esterillos, which makes him the youngest Junior National Surf Champion ever in Costa Rica.
In addition, MuÃ±oz claimed the Boys National title for the second year in a row, making his trajectory: 2005 CNS Mini-Grommets National Champion, 2006 Grommets National Champion, 2007 Boys, and 2008 Juniors.
For the first-time in its eight-year existence, the Circuito Nacional de Surf initiated a tag-team contest during the night, taking advantage of the Hotel Terraza del Pacifico’s lighting of the ocean for surfing.
The contest was won by the Billabong Team, captained by Luis Vindas and including Diego Naranjo, Anthony Flores, Orlando SolÃs and Lisbeth Vindas, all of Jaco. The prize was $500 in cash.