WHEN the Circuito Nacional de Surf2004-05 starts Oct. 9-10 in PlayaEsterillos, the inscribed competitors willembark on the first of eight contests thatare scheduled at beaches around CostaRica over the next eight months.This year, athletes will vie for pointsthat will earn them rankings (and trophies)as well as spots on the Costa RicanNational Surf Team. To reach the top, theywill have to beat the 2004 NationalChampion Jacó’s Alvaro Solano or the2004 Women’s National Champion, Jacó’sLisbeth Vindas.Already based on last year’s rankingsin the Circuito (but contingent on sponsorfunding) the Juniors Team hopes to go toTahiti in December for the Junior WorldSurfing Championships.As the Circuito Nacionalproceeds into 2005, thetop-ranking surfers in allcategories will get to competein the prestigious PanAmerican Games – secondonly to the Olympicsin athletic status – representingCosta Rica.Under the auspices ofthe Federación Tico deSurf, which is recognizedby the InternationalSurfing Association (ISA)and Asociación LatinoAmericana de Surf(ALAS), the Circuito Nacional de Surf2004-05 also begins its fifth year withrevised rules meant to hone the skills of theparticipants even further, bringing themcloser on par with the other opponents atworldwide tournaments, who have muchmore contest experience than Costa Ricansurfers. These new challenges are especiallyimportant for Costa Rica now, as thegovernment’s overseer of national sportsteams keeps an eye on the National SurfTeam for possible future support.IN THE Circuito pamphlet given toevery registrant, the new focus is on “risk”and says, “The surfer must perform committedradical maneuvers in the most criticalsections of a wave with style, powerand speed to maximize scoring potential.Innovative and progressive surfing will betaken into account when rewarding pointsfor committed surfing. The surfer whoexecutes this criteria with the highestdegree of difficulty and control on the betterwaves shall be rewarded with the highestscores.”In layman’s terms, “judges value therisk, you take more risk and finish themaneuver, the more points they will giveyou,” said Antonio Pilurzu, head of theFederación Tico de Surf.The biggest challenge Pilurzu andorganizers of the Circuito face this year isfinancial uncertainty from the internationalcompanies, who have been late to commitmoney to support the Circuito and itssubsequent internationalcompetitions.“Certainly thenational and local companiestrust us, but theinternational companyrepresentatives questionour surf market, eventhough on television andin the magazines theyuse photos of surfing tosell their products,”Pilurzu said. “We needthe money from them forthe Costa Rican kids andthe residents and all thekids here that surf.”It creates a frustrating situation for theFederación, which is trying to raise enoughmoney this month to pay for the airlinetickets that will send Juan Carlo Naranjo,Killian Raust, Luis Vindas, Jason Torres,Ronald Brown and Jairo Pérez to Tahiti inDecember.Fortunately, the Circuito Nacional deSurf 2004-05 has already secured sponsorsQuiksilver, Roxy, Red Bull, Surfos, 91.1La Radio, Mango’s Surf Shop, Chica Surf,Mohs, Rider, Dakine, Tamarindo VistaVillas, Cala Luna Hotel, Carton, Jass,Jammin’ Surf Camp, and Banzaii.The organizers chose the schedulebased on a combination of wave and beachquality as well as opportunities for sponsor’sevents like parties and concerts. Thisyear, according to 91.1 La Radio’s Eventsand Promotions Manager MauricioCastillo, a 91.1 DJ will play the station’ssignature mix of roots, hip-hop and housemusic at each day of competition. At thekick-off date in Esterillos, the station willfollow the first day’s contest on Saturdayevening with a party at Nacha Dadis, featuringmore party music.Between the water and the parties, theCircuito Nacional de Surf has improved itsreputation. Its success has even spread toNicaragua, and as a result, surf professionalsfrom there are looking to organize theirown nationwide contest using the CostaRican contest as a model. They’ve gottentogether and decided to send four of theirown surfers to compete this year on the fullCircuito in Costa Rica on behalf ofNicaragua.The Federación Tico de Surf expectsmore than 120 surfers to participate in theopen category alone this year, with about100 others spread out in the other contestsections which include Women’s, Mini-Grommets (l2 years and under), Grommets(14 years and under), Boys (16 years andunder), Junior (18 years and under)Boogie, Longboard, and Masters (40 andover). For more info, call 244-3756 or goto www.surfingcr.com.