A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
History Is Written In Portugal
After eight days of rigorous competition that began with 233 surfers from 29 countries, the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games (WSG) in Costa de Caprica, in the province of Almada, Portugal came to a conclusion with three of the Top 10 surfers in their divisions from Costa Rica.
Not only that, the entire Tico Team, when ranked in total for its work, settled in at a historic No. 5, up three spots from its eighth position at the 2006 World Surfing Games in Huntington Beach, California.
And, to make the mission complete, whereby in those Games two years ago Costa Rica nabbed the fourth place Copper Medal in the Tag Team event, in Portugal they stepped up to third and earned a Bronze Medal.
Nevertheless, frustration abound today when the Federacion de Surf de Costa Rica and its National Selection learned at the ISA closing ceremonies, that France and Costa Rica were separated in the rankings by 1 single point of difference — 11,819 for the fourth place French, and 11,818 for the fifth place Ticos.
The surfers who earned the most points for the Tricolor were those Top 10 stars themselves: Jason Torres at No. 5, Luis Vindas at No. 6 and Nataly Bernold at No. Women’s (all from Jaco Beach).
Their historical placement in the Top 10 set a world record for Latin America, and with Torres in particular, he equaled the mark of an individual Latino performance in the rankings. The Peruvian Gabriel Villaran was also No. 5 in the world during the 2004 World Surfing Games in Ecuador.
With this outstanding presentation in Portugal, Costa Rica officially set forth its invitation to the countries of the world for the next spectacle of international surfing: The 2009 Billabong World Surfing Games, in Playa Hermosa near Jaco, where the Federacion de Surf de Costa Rica hopes to host 50 National Selected Surf Teams, the best riders of each country.
“I am certain, the international contest in Costa Rica is going to be the greatest in the history of the World Surfing Games,” expressed Fernando Aguerre, President of the ISA.
The Costa Rica National Surf Team, without a doubt, gave a surprise in Portugal, especially with three surfers arriving in the last day of competition, and two of them, in the primary event. It was a tough day, a valiant fight for all.
First, Vindas ran into the problem of finding waves in the 2-foot surf. He dropped to fourth place in his Heat behind first place Australian Kai Otten, second place Australian Heath Joske, and third place American C.J. Hobgood. Still excellent enough to place No. 6 in the world, Open.
Torres was next, admitting later to being without nervousness, and feeling the support of the whole Tico Team behind him on the beach. He surfed hard, but also had trouble finding waves, falling to third place behind first place Dayyan Neve of Australia, and C.J. Hobgood of the United States.The loss was barely felt, however, when the rankings were released and the Tico was No. 5 in the world. “I feel really happy, but seriously, I’m numb, maybe I’ll feel something when I get off the plane in Costa Rica,” Torres said later that evening.
“Seriously, now I feel like a team guy with our coming in No. 5. The way we would meet each night, the way we prayed together. Everybody supported me. I was never doubtful.”
For her part, after eight days of unbeaten heats, Nataly also felt the poor luck of the waves today. She dropped from the Open heat and into repercharge, where she fell to third place behind CamilaCassia of Brazil in first and Marie Dejean of France in second.
Nataly added up her run of performances into a No. 6in the world Women’s spot.
“We obtained a great record, thanks to the talent of our surfers, and a great unity that we were able to maintain with our experience in previous international representations. Each time we improve and get better,” affirmed JosÃ© UreÃ±a, Technical Director of the Costa Rica National Surf Team and the President of the Federacion de Surf de Costa Rica.
“We felt very motivated because we are seen as a worldwide power of surfing,” added UreÃ±a. “Our rivals now are greatest. Our next goal is to be champions of the world.”