San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

2007-08 National Surf Circuit Kicks Off in Jacó

More than 180 surfers signed up to compete in last weekend’s Copa Mango, the first date of the eighth annual National Surf Circuit, held in the central Pacific beach
community of Jacó. And according to José Ureña, president of the Costa Rican Surf Federation, it’s because they all want to be like powerhouse Tico surfer Diego Naranjo.
Or Gilbert Brown. Or Federico Pilurzu. Or Jairo Pérez.
Or Nino Myrie, who from his first heat Saturday morning in front of Hotel Copacabana was hungry to win the trophy. The 23-year-old surfer from the southern Caribbean coast’s Puerto Viejo did indeed take the top spot after all was said and done on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s been quite a year for the circuit veterans,” Ureña said, referring to some recent big wins among circuit old-timers.
Jacó’s Naranjo, 26, after winning the 2007 National Surf Circuit championship, placed third in the Mexpipe Vans Pro in Mexico.
Also from Jacó, Luis Vindas, 21, winner of the country’s first Triple Crown competition, had some top Latin American Surf Association (ALAS) wins this year. Federico Pilurzu, 24, of Tamarindo, on the northern Pacific coast, was in the top 100 on the Association of Surfing Professionals World Qualifying Series and made it to the Hawaiian North Shore’s Triple Crown.
Puerto Viejo’s Gilbert Brown, 25, scored a bronze medal at the Pan American Surfing Games in Chile to become the third best surfer in all of Latin America. And 17-year-old Jairo Pérez of Jacó won the ALAS Reef Classic Latin Pro earlier this month, beating both Mexican National Champion Diego Cadena and three-time ALAS Pro Junior Champion Manuel Selman of Chile.
“Costa Rica is maintaining a very high international reputation in surfing right now, and that’s because of the circuit system,” Ureña added. “With the start of the 2007-08 season, the young kids starting out are looking at the contest and thinking that they can one day become like these veterans and do what they are doing. They can also compete now against these champions. And that’s exciting to them.”
And that’s exactly what happened last weekend in Jacó, with competitors coming from all over the country to compete in the circuit’s 13 categories, from “open” to “novice.” Interestingly, the categories that grew the most in numbers were “boys” and “mini-grommet girls.”
Naranjo said he was very impressed with the amount of young surfers he saw out paddling in waves of four to six feet – sometimes barrels – particularly those kids between the ages of 8 and 10, who “charged the field, even though the waves this weekend were big,” he said. “They pushed their level.”
Myrie, looking to take advantage of the circuit for himself, was on fire from start to finish during the Copa Mango.His focus was noticed by circuit announcer Carlos Brenes in the tower, who shouted, “Myrie is hungry!” during his semifinal heat, while the surfer smacked the lip backside once, twice, then three times.
But it was during the open finals, which also featured Naranjo, Brown and Jason Torres of Jacó, that Myrie pushed himself the hardest. Not satisfied with his 360 front-side spin, which wowed the crowd, he came back shortly after with a back-side 360 air and landed perfectly. The result: Myrie – the 2002-03 national surf champion – won first place, followed by Torres in second, Brown in third and Naranjo in fourth.
“I did all my heats whole and full force,” Myrie said after the final, sharing the winner’s podium with his young son Ziggy. “I feel really good about that final heat. I’m really content.”
In the women’s category, returning to the spotlight was five-time National Surf Circuit Women’s Champion Lisbeth Vindas of Jacó.
The 26-year-old veteran scored the women’s trophy from reigning champion Nataly Bernold, 14, who placed second this year.
Vindas, who on Sunday rushed from university exams to the water, making her heats with about three minutes to spare, thanked Bernold for challenging her, and keeping her own level of competition high. Look for these two to battle it out back and forth this year in the water.
One happy surprise last weekend was when shortboard aerialist Luis Vindas won first place in the longboard category. Vindas said he had been watching his brother-inlaw Naranjo’s efforts on the big stick and got curious about it, but “never practiced,” though he knew the national team needed some help in that department. Earlier last week, Vindas shaped his own longboard and started riding, performing airs and receiving loud applause from those on the shore.
“I’m surprised I won,” Vindas said, looking at his trophy. “I didn’t expect this, but I got good waves.”
“Luis is super-talented,” Naranjo acknowledged. “Everything he does, he does perfectly.”
Copa Mango Results
1. Nino Myrie
2. Jason Torres
3. Gilbert Brown
4. Diego Naranjo
1. Lisbeth Vindas
2. Nataly Bernold
3. Julia Minet
4. Lupe Gallucio
1. Jairo Pérez
2. Anderson Tascón
3. Ariel Agüero
4. Danny Bishko
Junior Women
1. Nataly Bernold
2. Debbie Zec
3. Malia Gallucio
4. Anastasia Patterson
5. Lupe Gallucio
1. Carlos Muños
2. Mykol Torres
3. Ramon Taliani
4. Angelu Bondmelli
1. Noemor McGonagle
2. Anthony Filligam
3. Manuel Mesén
4. Josué Rodríguez
Mini-Grommet Boys
1. Noemar McGonagle
2. Manuel Mesén
3. Leonardo Calvo
4. Andrei López
Mini-Grommet Girls
1. Leilani McGonagle
2. Arisha Grioti
3. Naomi Bernold
4. Avalon Esterak
1. Yefry Gómez
2. Joan Mojica
3. Edwin Offer
4. Silvio Mangel
Bodyboard Women
1. Ebrina Curet
2. Megwyn Saunders
3. Jimena Calvo
4. Shifi
1. Mauro Sergio Oliveira
2. Marcelo Matos
3. Cassio Carvelho
4. Giancarlo Loría
1. Luis Vindas
2. Ronald Reyes
3. Mauricio Umaña
4. Diego Naranjo
1. Alonso Peraza
2. Alexis Chamorro
3. Pedrito
Source: Costa Rican Surf Federation

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