The fifth date of Costa Rica’s Circuito Nacional de Surf – and the last of three Copa Mango contests – proved to be the hardest-fought victories for surfers who ended up at the top of their categories, even those who powered their way to the finals last weekend in Playa Nosara, on the northern Pacific coast.
Indeed, part of the challenge came with a record number of inscriptions – 193 competitors in 11 categories – while the level of surfing has risen such that the ultimate Open winner was 20-year-old Association of Surfing Professionals World Qualifying Series-ranked Quiksilver team rider Aritz Aranburu, who flew to Costa Rica from his home in Zarautz, Spain, to participate in the event between international contests.
“I came to Costa Rica because I had heard comments that there were very good waves here, and I have been very impressed,” Aranburu said. “I noticed that there is a great enthusiasm that exists in the surfers here at this contest; they are really ambitious. And the contest is very well organized, and good criteria from the judges are applied. In the end I felt relaxed enough, and happy, to take good opportunities in the water.”
Aranburu – whose skills bested Ronald Reyes (second place) of Hermosa, on the central Pacific coast; Luis Castro (third) of the Caribbean port city of Limón; and Jason Torres (fourth) of the central Pacific beach town of Jacó – has been based in Tamarindo for the past two weeks, surfing around the northwestern province of Guanacaste. He returned to Spain Wednesday and resumed his 2006 World Qualifying Series schedule, where he is currently ranked 85th.
Meanwhile, Jacó’s Jairo Pérez, 15, stormed back to first place in the Boys category with extremely aggressive surfing in Nosara, first noticed at the last Circuito date in Dominical, where he made a visit to the Open finals, admittedly prompted by all the attention his good friend Torres has received for winning first place Junior in Peru’s Pan-American Surfing Games in January. Since then, every heat with Pérez has been exciting, especially in the Junior division, where he eventually went head-to-head and maneuver-tomaneuver with his friend and National Surf Team mate.
“I feel more secure now. My strategy? To destroy every wave I get,” Pérez said, adding that he’s really proud of his current rankings at number one Boys and number two Juniors.
“I always practice a good repertoire of maneuvers in order for the judges to give me more points. In the last few weeks, I trained hard to come out ahead and I’m very happy to see that the strong training served me well.”
The only continuing surprise of the Circuito came once again in the female categories in Nosara. Yet again, new winners headed the divisions: Kristian Wilson, a competitor who has made the finals twice before, took first place in Women’s, and 11-year-old Jordan Huntley, who moved to Jacó from the U.S. state of Michigan and began surf training with coach Mauricio Vinaño only eight months ago, made her debut on the winner’s stand with a solid, focused, first-place Junior Women’s performance.