LAST weekend’s Copa Mango in Playa Hermosa, just south of Jacó on the central Pacific coast, was a Circuito Nacional de Surf contest of a different color – blond, to be exact.
In the days before the tournament, a bunch of the youngsters training with Jacó’s Rónald Reyes decided to take the mentorship to new lengths when each dyed his hair peroxide blond to match Reyes’ dome.
So, last Saturday and Sunday on the beach in front of The Backyard Hotel, everywhere you looked, boys of all ages were sporting shocks of white-blond hair. Unfortunately, of his retinue only Reyes took a first-place crown to his now grown- out, blondish-brown-haired head, figuratively, when he claimed the top Longboard prize.
IF anyone could be called the King of Copa Mango, it would be Germaine “Nino” Myrie, from the southern Caribbean coastal town of Puerto Viejo, who took control of the two-day event with an extraordinary display of confidence. The 2002-03 Circuito champion owned the waves in smaller-than-normal conditions at the usually powerful beach break.
However, Myrie’s commanded flights, even in sets of three to four feet, earned him first place in the Open division of what may be his last Costa Rican surf contest in a while.
“Always, it’s my job to demonstrate my best at tournaments, especially now that the surfing level in Costa Rican contests is very competitive,” said Nino, who lives and works in Jacó. “The great satisfaction for me is that I won over very powerful surfers like Gilbert (Brown), who returned in great shape after a left-knee operation. This result I have in my heart. I have big plans for this year, so that’s why it is very nice to start with this victory.”
Those plans include a three-month surf and photo trip beginning on the North Shore of Hawaii, along with fellow Puerto Viejo surfer and 2001-02 Circuito champion Gilbert Brown, who placed fourth in the Open in Hermosa. Myrie will live for more than a month in his sponsor’s accommodations, the Volcom house, while Brown will reside in the Quiksilver home, both on the beach near the famous Pipeline. Following this, the two friends will travel to Bali for more surfing adventures.
Adrenalina TV will be sponsoring the entire excursion, filming their surf sessions for future airings on Fox Sports Net.
WITH Myrie and Brown away, Jacó’s Lisbeth Vindas (five-time Circuito Women’s champion), Luis Vindas and Diego Naranjo off doing the Association of Surfing Professional’s World Qualifying Series tournaments, and Tamarindo’s Federico Pilurzu (2000-01 Circuito champion) about to return to university and, afterward, the World Qualifying Series, a new surf prince has risen in Costa Rica. His name is Jairo Pérez. Pérez, 15, not only placed third in the Open, he also had such a dynamic weekend that he walked away with first-place wins in both Junior and Boys’ categories.
All up and down the beach, people were talking about how Jairo Pérez charged every appropriate wave, managed to surf even the closeouts, carved an average of at least two maneuvers per wave, per heat, and eventually placed above the veteran Brown in the finals.
“Jairo has been developing his own style and his own techniques, which are working for him,” said Antonio Pilurzu, head of Costa Rica’s Federación de Surf.
“For years, these kids had only a few experienced surfers to look up to, such as Federico, Gilbert and Nino, and the big mistake the young ones were making was trying to copy the old guys’ techniques rather than finding their own. Jairo is figuring out what methods will win and is getting taken seriously.”
“Since the Circuito ended last year, I had a lot of desire to win first-place Boys’ again,” Pérez commented, understanding the fact that he has far surpassed that target in only three Circuito dates this year.
“At the beginning of each tournament, I try to concentrate, try to attack in the right moments, take the best waves and go to the water to obtain a good result. This was a very important reason why I got to the finals today.”
THE younger women in Hermosa also made news again. Colombian Angie Forigua, who now lives in Jacó, became a three-time first-place winner, having won all three Circuito dates so far this year, including the Pinilla Classic in Avellanas, on the northern Pacific coast, Trofeo Vista Villas in nearby Tamarindo and now the Copa Mango. The girls are joining up in droves. Out of a total of 178 registered surfers at last weekend’s event, 40 were females who wanted to show what they could do out there in the break.
One gal got some very special news on Sunday, as did eight other Costa Rican surfers, when Pilurzu and the federation finalized the national team for the seventh Pan American Surfing Games to be held Jan. 15-23 in Lima, Peru. Pilurzu talked with Andreina Samudio, Jason Torres and Juan Carlos Naranjo of Jacó, Isaac Vega and Federico Pilurzu of Tamarindo, and Pérez, letting them know he had finally secured enough sponsorship and private funding to reward their ranking numbers and surfing abilities with Tico team positions to Peru, where they will represent their country against 22 others for Olympic-style gold, silver and bronze medals. Lisbeth Vindas, Luis Vindas and Diego Naranjo will be joining their countrymen in Lima next week.
Costa Rica’s surf team won third place in the event two years ago. Pilurzu says he thinks this group is “stronger” and will do even better.
Circuito Nacional de Surf • Copa Mango Results • Jan. 7-8, 2006 • Playa Hermosa
Open: Germaine Myre, Puerto Viejo; José Rojas, Quepos; Jairo Pérez, Playa Jacó; Gilbert Brown, Puerto Viejo.
Junior: Jairo Pérez, Playa Jacó; Jasón Torres, Playa Jacó; Carlos Muñoz, Playa Esterillos; David Herrera, Quepos.
Boys: Jairo Pérez, Playa Jacó; Carlos Muñoz, Playa Esterillos; Nikolas Ruhlow, Playa Carrillo; Juan Calderón, Playa Jacó.
Grommets: José Calderón, Playa Jacó; Michael Torres, Playa Esterillos; Carlos Muñoz, Playa Esterillos; Anderson Tascon, Playa Herradura.
Mini Grommets: Alberto Muñoz, Playa Esterillos; Marcos Rojas, Malpaís; Josué Rodríguez, Playa Jacó; Parker Hundley, United States.
Women: Laura Pecoraro, Playa Pavones; Cristine Costa, Playa Jacó; Natalie Bernold, Playa Tamarindo; Andreina Samudio, Playa Jacó.
Junior Women: Angie Forigua, Playa Hermosa; Andreina Samudio, Playa Jacó; Lupe Galluccio, Playa Hermosa; Malia Galluccio, Playa Hermosa.
Longboard: Rónald Reyes, Playa Hermosa; Teal Akerson, Malpaís; Fleury Emilsen, Playa Esterillos; Juan Diego Evangelista, Playa Tamarindo.
Master: Louis Maresca, Playa Tamarindo; Edward Gerry, Playa Jacó; Alex Galluccio, Playa Hermosa.