Federico Pilurzu, Costa Rica’s b e s t – k n own internationally competitive surfer, recently returned to his home break in Langosta, just south of Tamarindo on the northern Pacific coast, for a well-earned pit stop. After a strong run of Association of Surfing Professionals World Qualifying Series (WQS) contests, he now ranks 105th in the overall best-of-seven WQS tournament rankings.
“I’m planning to hit the training and surfing hard,” he told The Tico Times. “I feel like I’m on a roll, but I need to be home and regroup, get some rest, sleep on my own bed and get back in shape for the final part of the season.”
Pilurzu will head out of Costa Rica again shortly for the O’Neill Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz, California, Oct. 9-14, followed immediately by the Maresias Surf International 2007, Oct. 16-21 in Santa Catarina, Brazil, where he will pursue his dream of getting back into the top 100 – a requirement for him to qualify for the last two WQS contests of the of year, the Reef Hawaiian Pro and the O’Neill World Cup, both to be held on Hawaii’s North Shore.
The international circuit has been first and foremost on Pilurzu’s agenda this year, and it kept the Tico athlete from receiving a recent tribute from the Costa Rican Sports and Recreation Institute (ICODER) acknowledging him and the rest of the National Surf Team (Lisbeth Vindas, Jairo Pérez, Isaac Vega, Jason Torres, Luis Vindas, Matías Brown, Nicolas Ruhlow, Jose Calderón, Anthony Flores and Nataly Bernold) for their firstplace finish at the Central American Surf Championships in Guatemala March 30 to April 1. Independently, Pilurzu won the Open championship of the regional competition for the second time in its two-year history.
Missing out on the national acclaim has been disappointing, Pilurzu admitted, but added that putting all his energy toward the WQS will only help Costa Rican surfing overall.
“I am stoked to push the Costa Rican flag up,” he said. “This country has given me so much, and I have so much to give back that I’m more than happy to return the favor.”
“Unhappily, surfing doesn’t earn a living in Costa Rica, and it’s hard to get sponsors when you don’t live in a big country like the United States or the European countries,” Pilurzu added. “That’s why I want to push as far as I can internationally and get recognized.”
After missing the Australian portion of the WQS in March because of knee ligament surgery, Pilurzu bounced back with fervor later that same month to take second place in Huntington Beach, California.
“I was feeling strong, and my equipment was pretty dialed in,” he recalled. “I was riding for a new shaper, Sharp Eye, and the boards were fitting my surfing. Taking second place really boosted my confidence.”
Pilurzu followed his success in Huntington with the Central American Surf Championship win. Then came a streak of bad WQS events where he “was stressing out and lost motivation,” including a follow-up in Huntington – the highly visible U.S. Open of Surfing in July, which he lost in the last five seconds of his heat.
“It all accumulated, and I snapped,” Pilurzu recalled. “That’s when I hit the bottom and got some great drive for the next event in England. I was hungry for it and desperate for a result.”
In August, his hunger earned him a ninth-place finish at the Rip Curl Boardmasters in Newquay, England, after which Pilurzu broke the glass ceiling, earning the 98th spot in the rankings and qualifying for the first time ever to compete in the biggest WQS, the Super Series Rip Curl Pro later that month in France. There, among incredibly tough competition, consistent surf and variable weather, Pilurzu’s skills brought him to 49th out of 144 of the world’s best.
After two more WQS events in Portugal and Spain, the Tico surfer now has a total of 4,944 points, placing him 105th out of 500. What strategy does the athlete have in mind as he sets a course for the next leg of the WQS?
“The last couple of years I have focused my surfing in the competitive direction, forgetting some of the free surfing, new age stuff,” Pilurzu mused. “I think I want to incorporate a little more new age and radical moves in my competitive repertoire.”