It’s official: Costa Rica’s Dream Team surfers are the best in the world.
They made history on Sunday by winning the overall gold medal in the International Surfing Association (ISA) 2015 World Surfing Games held at Playa Popoyo, Nicaragua. The medal and subsequent Fernando Aguirre World Team Trophy and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President’s Trophy anointed Costa Rica the world champions of surfing.
In addition, the team won another gold medal for coming in first place in the ISA Aloha Cup tag team event.
The overall gold was obtained with significant points earned by the brother and sister team of Noe Mar and Leilani McGonagle from Pavones, in the country’s Southern Zone, who were shredding the waves from start to finish.
Each of them made it to their respective finals, where four-time world medalist Leilani earned a silver medal for second place, while Noe Mar won the Open Division in less than 7 minutes of his heat, with two rides in the 8-point range before anyone had even scored a 3-point ride. He was also awarded a gold medal for his work in the water and became the individual world champion.
Not to be discounted were the performances of the rest of the team including Jason Torres and Lisbeth Vindas, both from Jacó, who were noted for their short but moving run. Anthony Fillingim (Malpaís) made a great showing towards the win in the Aloha Cup, while Carlos Muñoz (Esterillos) looked to be a final hopeful — even the announcer said he was “putting Costa Rica surfing on the map; he’s one of the best surfers in the world.” Yet, his hopes were dashed because of a controversial call in Round 9 of the Reparcharge Heats, when he thought he was interfered with by another surfer, but in fact the judges ruled that Muñoz inflicted the foul. Carlos was penalized with his wave score reduced and ended up in 4th place in the last chance Reparcharge.
By the finals, all of Costa Rica’s hopes were in the hands of the McGonagles. And they delivered. The spray their snaps produced pleased the judges as it demonstrated power and speed, crucial elements to gain points.
“I knew that the rivals were going to be hard with the past world champion and another finalist from last year in that heat, I knew I had to start strong and got those two 8s,” explained Noe Mar. “Then I knew I had to risk everything and got that 9.93. Thank God for sending me good waves. This has taken a lot of hard work and ISAs to get here.”
Noe Mar is a former silver medalist, and sister Leilani’s silver in Nicaragua makes the 5th world medal to grace her neck.
Over the course of the 7 days, Costa Ricans flocked to the beach adding numbers to those cheering for the Tico Team. And it was just this crowd that hoisted Noe Mar to their shoulders for a victory lap before the team stepped up to the podium to collect all their hardware.
“Costa Rica put on some of the best performances all week long,” the ISA announcer said.
It was just those performances that finalized the overall results as Costa Rica #1, Portugal #2, United States #3 and Peru, last year’s champions, #4.