The International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games begin in Costa Rica Friday.
The nine-day competition begins today at 10 a.m. with the opening ceremonies in Jacó, on the central Pacific coast, and concludes with the closing ceremonies on Sunday, Aug. 9.
The ISA World Surfing Games, which is the biggest sporting event in the history of Costa Rica, features 34 teams from around the world, including Australia, the winner of the last three competitions. With the addition of the Dominican Republic, which registered Wednesday, the 2009 World Surfing Games will have the biggest international turnout in competition history, breaking the previous record of 33 teams in 2006.
The actual surfing begins Saturday morning with the Men´s and Women´s Open competition, starting at 7a.m. at Playa Hermosa. Though the home base for the competition is in Jacó, all the surfing will take place about three miles south of there on Playa Hermosa.
The Costa Rican national team, which finished fifth in the 2008 World Surfing Games, is excited for the opportunity to surf on their home beaches.
“We are surfing at home,” said Carlos Brenes, spokesman for the national team and member of the Surfing Federation. “We have been training and surfing at Playa Hermosa almost every day for the past eight months. We hope it will give us an advantage that will help us finish as well or better than we did last year.”
The Costa Rican team is led by Jason Torres, who finished fifth in the Open competition in 2008 and was the winner of the Central American Open. The Costa Rican team, like all others in competition, is composed of 12 surfers, including four male Open surfers, two female Open surfers, two longboarders and four alternates.
The games, which are sponsored by sportswear company Billabong, will be televised worldwide. Coverage is expected to reach an estimated audience of 80 million people. Javier Cruz, director of the World Surfing Games, said at least 15,000 people are expected to attend the event.
The municipality of Garabito, which includes Playa Hermosa and Jacó, has dedicated 11 months to preparing the beaches, parks and roads of the area and improving security.
“It looks perfect,” Cruz said about the venue. “This will show the world the amazing beaches and natural beauty Costa Rica has to offer.”
See the July 31 print or digital edition of The Tico Times for more on this story.