Sixteen-year-old Carlos Muñoz carved out waves, history and a hat trick at the National Surf Circuit finals last weekend in Playa Hermosa, just south of Jacó on the central Pacific coast.
To the wild applause of hundreds of beachside spectators, the youngster from Esterillos, south of Hermosa, upset the favorite and leader going into the event, 19-year-old Jason Torres, to become the youngest national surf champion in Costa Rican history, and secured a hat trick by also winning the junior and boys divisions.
“I’m very happy, very proud for the people of Esterillos and for my family,” said Muñoz, who recently ranked ninth in the International Surfing Association (ISA) 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 Jacó’s Lisbeth Vindas, 26, who won her seventh women’s national title last weekend. She battled against 16-year-old wunderkind Nataly Bernold of Tamarindo, on the northern Pacific coast, 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. The circuit finals were a staging area for the ISA’s 2009 World Surfing Games, set to take place July 31 to Aug. 8 at the same beach. The event featured a new fiberboard podium and computerized scoring system, as well as 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.
For more information, visit the Surf Federation of Costa Rica’s Web site at www.surfingcr.net.