By Erika Rojas RodrĂguez for Vuelta en U and translated by SurfVoucher.com
The history of surfing in Costa Rica was marked by a before and an after, following a competition such as the Billabong ISA Wolrd Surfing Games, hosted in Playa Hermosa, which reunited 35 countries with their respective surfing national teams showing the best surf Costa Rica has ever seen.
Added to that, the Costa Rica national team performed excellently, finishing seventh in the 35 participating countries. It has been almost a year and the results achieved in such a competition are still showing.
Jose UreĂ±a, president of the Costa Rica surfing federation and coach of the Costa Rica surfing national team; Diego Naranjo, one of the participates in the event Â plus one of the more experienced surfers in Costa Rica, talked to us about what is still being collected after the Costa Rica Billabong ISA Wolrd Surfing Games.
The Popularity of the Surfboard in Costa Rica
More fans, additional support and more commercial activities are, for Diego, the biggest contribution that the ISA tournament brought to Costa Rica. â€śThe Surfing industry and popularity between the people have grown immensely. People are more interested in the sport after the World Games. Today even the surfing fashion and the use of surfing accessory is more commonâ€ť. Naranjo which competed in the Long Board category in Playa Hermosa in 2009 explained.
Unfortunately on the professional and personal level Naranjo feels that the surf is trapped. â€śThe level hasnâ€™t moved neither forward or backwards after the eventâ€ť he said.
â€śPersonally what the World Surfing Games left me has a lot of potential to keep on growing, we have amazing waves in Costa Rica and great national talent. We have to keep on working, but this isnâ€™t a one man job, it is up to the entire Costa Rica Surf Federation and all the Tico surfers in general. I believe that the directives of the Surf Federation havenâ€™t done enough on allowing younger surfers to assist in national and international surfing workshops and in bringing experts to the country. From my prospective I believe it should be improvedâ€ť, Naranjo explained.
Diego told us, that from his part and together with Lisbeth Vindas, his wife and also the female surfer with the most achieves in the country, have tried to help the child surfers. â€śWe have a surf school, which has shown positive results, but it is a business. With the Jaco Surfing Association we have a project called Monarcas, in which we work with children at social risk. To them we offer training, accessories, memberships, food and accommodations for the National Surfing Circuit and we have seen a noticeable growth in their skillsâ€ť.
More Support Out of the Water
The idea is to have more followers and support from businesses sustaining the national surf industry in general and with the sponsoring of surfing figures, it is a result that Diego and Jose UreĂ±a appointed. From what we were told by the president of the Surfing Federation, people changed â€śtheir perception of surfâ€ť after the World Games.
â€śThe country exposure has grown. There is a higher influx of public in every National Circuit date, but that has been going on forever, every year we have attracted more fans and we donâ€™t have a roofâ€ť, said UreĂ±a.
On the level of surfing, UreĂ±a affirmed, since the World Games he knew the impact wouldnâ€™t be in the Open category surfers, but in minor categories. â€śUnfortunately the minor categories donâ€™t have the chance of travelling as much, and seeing such a big quantity of international surfers in Costa Rica increased their prospective of what this sport is, we have noticed a change on the minor categories that now are more interested in qualifying for World Surfing Eventsâ€ť.
The 2010 Challenges
In the second half of the current year the biggest challenges are for the national surfing team. The World Masters will be held next month in Panama and for the first time we managed to organize the national team to compete there. Than in October, the World Open will be held in Peru and this is a great goal for the Federation.
â€śAs far as priorities, we bet more on the Open category, but since the Master will be held in Panama and the expenses arenâ€™t as high, we made the effort of taking eight members of the national surfing tem to this competition, so that they will also have to possibility of competing in a World Tournmentâ€ť, UreĂ±a said.
The 35 and older event will be held in Santa Catalina on the 26th of August. Than in October the Peru tournament will be disputed in SeĂ±oritas Beach and Caballeros of Punta Hermosa, after that the Federation schedule will continue with the Costa Rica National Circuit.
Precisely for this activity, UreĂ±a announced that a Competition Commitee with members of the Federation will be formed, elite competitors and parents, this with the intention of helping in the organization of each event and avoid any problems has it happened in the end of the 2009-2010 season, when Lisbeth Vindas was given the gold in the final when it belonged to Nataly Bernold.
The Costa Rica national surf is ready for much more and one example is the Pan American Games held in Costa Rica in 2013. â€śThere is where we are headedâ€ť.
The original article in Spanish was written by Erika Rojas RodrĂguez, you can find the original version in Spanish at http://www.vueltaenu.co.cr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12471