San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Carlos Muñoz makes surf history at Costa Rica finals at Playa Hermosa

Sixteen-year-old Carlos Muñoz carved out waves, history and a hat-trick at Costa Rica´s National Surf Circuit finals on Saturday at central Pacific Playa Hermosa.

The youngster, from the nearby Pacific beach of Esterillos, grabbed the 2008-2009 Costa Rica National Surf Championship titles in the Open, Junior and Boys divisions to the wild applause of hundreds on the beach witnessing the event, called the Gran Final Terraza-Reef competition.

“I´m very happy, very proud for the people of Esterillos and for my family,” said the youngest champion in the seven-year history of the Circuit, who also recently earned a No. 9 in the International Surfing Association (ISA) ranking at the World Junior Surfing Games in Ecuador.

“It wasn´t in my mind to win the championship, until I got into the finals of this competition,” Muñoz said. “I just want to be an example for the rest of the kids who follow me.”

Also making history was central Pacific Playa Jacó´s Lisbeth Vindas, who won the Woman´s National title again for the seventh time. She was battling against Nataly Bernold, who shocked everyone on the beach by falling out in the semifinals. “I was praying to win my title back, and I did,” Vindas said.

Cedric Auffret, of Tamarindo, on the northern Pacific coast, also won back his Longboard crown.

The Gran Finals Terazza-Reef, sponsored by Coca Cola Zero, was a staging area for the ISA Billabong World Surfing Games Costa Rica 2009, set for July 31 at the exact same at the beach at Hotel Terraza del Pacifico.

This year saw the debut of a new fiberboard podium and computerized scoring system, and featured some noteworthy audience members, including ISA Managing Director Stephanie Keith, who held meetings with members of the Surf Federation of Costa Rica during the contest.

However, most eyes were on the athletes during the event, which climaxed with the surprise win by Muñoz, who topped the rankings favorite Jason Torres, who lost in the semifinals.

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