LAST year’s Costa Rican surf championsare already off to an excellent start.Jacó’s Alvaro Solano – the 2004 NationalSurf Champion – and Jacó’s Lisbeth Vindas– the current National Women’s Champion– both took first place in their respectivecompetitive categories at the opening weekendof the Circuito Nacional de Surf 2004-05 last weekend in Playa Esterillos on thecentral Pacific coast.The “Grand Prix Mango Esterillos”kicked off the fifth year of the competitionwith more than 120 participants in conditionshead judge Yeffrey Rojas said “couldn’thave been more perfect – sunny, no rain,the waves were great – even in dead lowtide!”Rojas noted that Solano was “surfinggreat and every hit was great,” but thoughtthe champion should watch out for twoyoungsters who performed particularly wellduring the contest even though they didn’thit the top four of the open.“Tamarindo’s Giovanni Perini is 18years old and the only Costa Rican rankedsurfer who lives at the beach who competesnationally and is in university,” Rojas said.“He is an academic/athletic double threat.”ONCE again, 16-year-old Jason Torresof Jacó demonstrated skill and confidencein his maneuvers. He won the junior categoryand also competed well in the open,impressing Rojas and reaffirming his spoton the Costa Rican Junior Team set to go tothe World Championships in Tahiti thisDecember.It looks like Torres and the Junior Teamwill indeed make it to Tahiti after all, asAntonio Pilurzu, head of the FederaciónTico de Surf, announced in Esterillos that afinancial sponsor had finally come forwardto pick up the trip’s costs. Adrenalina, aCosta Rican video production company thatspecializes in skate and surf videos will payfor Torres, Juan Carlos Naranjo (Jacó),Killian Raust (Playa Grande), Luis Vindas(Jacó), Ronald Brown (Puerto Viejo) andJairo Pérez (Jacó) and one girl to be namedto attend the Junior World SurfingChampionships.PERHAPS the best news of theEsterillos weekend is the proliferation ofnew female competitors. Young gals vyedfor that Junior Team spot, as well as olderathletes such as Laura Pecoraro (Pavones)giving Circuito veterans such as María delMar from Hermosa, Andrea Díaz from Jacó,Vindas and Brooks Wilson from Tamarindosome new challengers.“Brooks was surfing with power, controland speed, and was making nice bottomturns and off-the-lip turns,” Rojas recalled.“One of her hits in one of the earlier heats,I remember, was amazing.”Rojas was also impressed by Díaz’sreturn to competition after taking a year offto have a baby.“She looked like she had never left,” hesaid. “The great thing about her is that sheis not scared, and she goes after it, always.”Lisbeth Vindas said Esterillos “is herfavorite wave,” which perhaps explains herconfident and outstanding performance duringthe Circuito opening weekend.She earned first place in the woman’scategory.