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Due to residency issues, Costa Rica might have to leave its best racer behind at the stand-up paddleboard world championships

Over the weekend, stand-up paddleboarders in Puntarenas competed in the final race used to decide which Costa Rican paddlers will travel to Nicaragua for the ISA Stand-up Paddle World Championships, held from May 3-11. The Federación de Surf likely will make the decision sometime next week — and the result could end up being controversial.

As has become customary, Tamarindo powerhouse Geovanny Espinoza took first place in the long distance race last weekend. The race involves a 9-kilometer course that runs parallel to Puntarenas’ Paseo de los Turistas and requires three laps around oversized red buoys. Rolando Herrera, of Jacó, finished second. Reigning national champion Erick Zamora, from Playa Potrero, came in third.

In a second event, a 4.5-kilometer contest, Herrera narrowly beat out Espinoza, who was followed by Andy Seidensticker. In the women’s 4.5-kilometer race, Josephine Schiebe won, Edith Garcia took second and Joice Solano finished third.

Although the Federación has not announced its first-ever world championship team, attendants were abuzz over who might be selected. Federación President Randall Chaves said Costa Rica would likely send six to eight athletes, and it seemed obvious that Espinoza, who has won competitions all season and likely will take the national title this year from his friend Zamora, would be on the team. But not necessarily, said Chaves.

“Nicaragüense,” he explained succinctly. He meant that Espinoza might not be able to compete because he was born in Nicaragua, and doesn’t have residency in Costa Rica.

Yet Espinoza has lived in Costa Rica since he was 2 and is working with lawyers to quickly obtain the residency, a requirement of the organization hosting the world championship. But if Espinoza’s paperwork can’t be processed in time, he will have to sit out this year. At the same time, a Tica who has lived most of her life in Hawaii may be tapped to join the team, Chaves said.

Resting beneath a tent with some watermelon after the competition, Espinoza seemed stoic about the prospect of missing out. “I’m gonna race with the best,” he said. Just maybe not this year.



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