Costa Rica’s growing popularity and economy is largely if not directly the result of the surfing community. Popular places in Costa Rica, such as Jacó, Tamarindo and Hermosa, were discovered by surfers. Almost two and a half decades ago, surfers came and fell in love with this beautiful paradise and the pura vida lifestyle. Over time more surfers and people came, and started their own cabins and businesses. Throughout the years, Costa Rica has developed incredibly fast. But where did it start?
The beauty of the lush rain forest and countless other attractions are also a huge lure for tourism, but surfing has an even larger role. From around the world, people have come to experience the consistent waves of the Costa Rican coastline.
The foundation of tourism related to surfing belongs to the locals. They greet visitors with hospitality and share their long-learned tips. The tragedy of the situation is found within the challenges local surfers face. For example, Jason Torres has won several national championships and the Pan-American championship, as well as the Junior Central American championship. What is next for this gifted athlete? Waiting tables in Jacó? He is an incredibly talented surfer and is just one of the many waiting for an opportunity: the opportunity to represent their country at qualified international events.
A country such as Ecuador, barely visited by surfers, is giving $50,000 a year to its national surf federation, while Costa Rica, according to Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) statistics (from 2004), is generating more than $273.3 million from surfers in search of good waves. Our country is receiving millions from visiting surfers and is giving nothing to the National Surf Circuit to support us.
Costa Rica could have a world champ, but with little chance to show the world his or her talent. It solely depends on support. It is only natural and necessary that government support is such a vital piece of our economic prosperity.
The government’s non-support of the National Surf Circuit has placed people such as Antonio Pilurzu (former president of the Costa Rican Surf Federation) in difficult situations such as using money from his own pocket to help local surfers.
Surfing is exploding like crazy, not only here, but also all over the world. Surfers are winning anywhere from $50-50,000 just for surfing. Pros at the top of the World Championship Tour are winning as much as $2 million dollars a year. Shouldn’t some branch of the government help the sport that put Costa Rica on the map?
Costa Rica’s thriving economy and development owe the surfing community. We are not asking for a revolution, simply support.
How can it be possible that a sport that gives so much to the country makes their talented people beg for minimum support? We ask for a hand, and we don’t even get a fingernail.
Last year I as well as several other surfers had a chance to live a dream and represent Costa Rica in the junior world cup (in Brazil). Unfortunately our dream had to stay a dream when we found out there was a lack of funds.
I want to take this opportunity to speak up, not only for me but also for all the Costa Rican surfers out there, and ask why? Why can’t the Tourism Institute give a little support? Isn’t the mission of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to help talented athletes? We ask for so little; why don’t you ever say yes? Yes to supporting our surfing, yes to helping us compete outside of Costa Rica, yes to representing the country we love and care for with all our heart.
Lupe Galluccio is 14 years old, and was the Costa Rican Junior Girls’ Surf Champion in 2005-2006. She lives in Playa Hermosa, on the central Pacific coast. She would like to give a big thank-you to Antonio Pilurzu, Lisbeth Vindas, Andrea Díaz, her family, Chuck’s W.O.W. Surf Shop, Tsunami Sushi, Adrenalina, Brooks Wilson, Roxy, Banzaii and everyone who has given a helping hand to Costa Rica’s surfing evolution.