The national junior surf team last weekend rose two ranking spots to 12 out of 28 countries when the International Surfing Association (ISA) announced the winners of the 2008 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in Hossegor, France. Australia won the championship, followed by Brazil, the Hawaiian team and the U.S. team.
As at last year’s championship in Portugal, the Ticos were anchored by 18-year-old Jairo Pérez, the 2007 Central American junior surf champion; 15-year-old Carlos Muñoz, reigning national junior surf champion; and Nataly Bernold, also 15, two-time national junior women’s surf champion.
José Calderón, Anthony Segura, Mykol Torres, Debbie Zec, Lupe Galluccio and Orlando Solís also had Portugal under their boards before this year, but Rudy Jiménez, Danny Bishko, Anthony Fillingim and Anastasia Patterson all dipped their feet in international competitive waters for the first time in the May 24-31 competition.
The veteran of international tournaments, Pérez went the furthest in Hossegor – three rounds in the main event and five rounds in the second-chance repercharge session. He also had the toughest heats, with the most seasoned competitors as he moved along, including Jadson Andre of Brazil, Nat Young and Chase Wilson of the United States, France’s Marc Lacomare and Paco Divers of New Zealand.
He fell valiantly to fourth place in his last repercharge round, when he surfed hard against first-place South African Matthew Bromley, second-place Hawaiian Dylan Goodale and third-place New Zealander Matt Hewitt.
Segura also did the Ticos proud by ending up in a third-round repercharge May 30 before falling out at fourth place behind Chilean Maximiano Cross, Tahitian David Aariimoana and Portugal’s Francisco Souza.
Earlier in the competition, on May 26, the women added valuable points to the total that eventually made up the 12th-place score. Bernold, Patterson and Galluccio all advanced without too much trouble, and Zec went on via repercharge.
Bernold demonstrated why she is known as a “contest machine” by earning a firstplace ranking that day – the first of the Ticos to do so after 14 heats – beating Alexia Jeri of Peru and Australian Tiana McNeven, while Patterson managed to classify to the next primary round of competition in her first international experience, with a nice second-place finish behind winner Diana de Souza of Brazil.
The rest of the tournament was not as muscular for the Ticas, who held on for only a few repercharge rounds. Their leader, Bernold, finished her work in repercharge round 4, when she fell to third place behind Hawaii’s Malia Manuel and Heiriti Manuel of Tahiti.
As for the under-16 boys, Muñoz, Fillingim and Torres finished their runs with pride. Muñoz, who received accolades for being the “most outstanding Latin surfer” in last year’s championship in Portugal, again made a solid appearance for the Ticos, and the second best performance for Latin America after Peruvian Carlos Mario Zapata.
“Every year, we have managed to improve when we attend a world championship,” said Costa Rican Surf Federation President José Ureña. “The junior category is of extreme importance because it hardens the soldiers to fire because they are up against the best in the world there.”