Exploring El Salvador, Part 2
While the ISA World Surfing Games were being run and won in El Salavador last week (scroll down for all of the medallists and Tokyo qualifiers), our team on the ground has been hard 'at work' slaving away under the sizzling Salvadoran sun, surfing. While El Salvador has made headlines recently on the back of president Nayib Bukele's decision to allow Bitcoin as legal tender, if you surf, the Central American country has been on your bucket list for years already anyway.
Red Bull Airborne competitor Kevin Schulz is our tour guide and with most of the ISA competitors locked into the event zone bubble a few beaches away, he's been scoring uncrowded waves at the jewel in El Salvador's surfing crown, the legendary Punta Roca. Hit play in the video above to see what unfolds when the San Clemente kid unleashes his ferocious backhand on the unsuspecting reeling righthander and feel free to leave us a comment on YouTube if you think you can hear just a pang of jealousy in the tone of fellow host Chris Coté's voice when he checks in with Kevin on the daily.
Get comfortable, enjoy the show, and stay tuned for one last instalment of Exploring El Salvador, coming soon!
Day 8 – Team France claim glory in El Salvador
At the end of eight long days in the Central American sun three big winners were revealed in El Salvador, and the names of the 40 surfers who are off to Tokyo were locked in.
Joan Duru and Jeremy Flores claimed first and third in the men's division for France, while Michel Bourez and Pauline Ado ensured the French also took gold in the team's standings. It was a bittersweet day for Duru, however, as his two golds still aren't enough for a place on the plane to Tokyo, with Flores and Bourez already holding down those slots on the French team.
“I am so stoked I can’t believe it yet,” said Duru. “I did not expect to do this well at all. I’ve been at home for over a year. I lost sponsors. Then this contest came up so I just got back into training four weeks ago. I can’t believe I won.”
Japan finished second in the team rankings, anchored by Kanoa Igarashi, who claimed individual silver, and Hiroto Ohhara, who won his ticket to Tokyo by coming fourth, narrowly nudging out countryman Shun Murakami on the final day. The Japanese women also had an incredible event, with Mahina Maeda and Amuro Tsuzuki both locking in berths for their hometown games in July.
Australian superstar Sally Fitzgibbons took the women's gold medal for a record-breaking third time, proving once again that she thrives in the team environment of the ISA World Surfing Games, and after her recent win at the Rip Curl Rottnest Pro she is the form surfer in the world leading into Tokyo.
“This event has been an unreal platform to test our mental strength,” said Fitzgibbons. “It’s surreal to be wearing the gold medal at the end of the week.
“This is a great runway heading into Tokyo. Just competing and seeing everyone earn their spots is great. Being on the World Tour we don’t get to surf against a lot of the other qualifiers. It’s good practice to go against them and spend time bonding with the rest of the Aussie team."
Portugal’s Yolanda Sequeira and Teresa Bonvalot took silver and bronze respectively, while Peru’s Daniella Rosas finished fourth.
For the WSL surfers the next stop is the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro, while the 40 surfers listed below will be marking July 23 in their calendars, and regrouping in Tokyo. Can't wait!
- Gold – Joan Duru (FRA)
- Silver – Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
- Bronze – Jeremy Flores (FRA)
- Copper – Hiroto Ohhara (JPN)
- Gold – Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
- Silver – Yolanda Sequeira (POR)
- Bronze – Teresa Bonvalot (POR)
- Copper – Daniella Rosas (PER)
- Gold – France
- Silver – Japan
- Bronze – Portugal
- Copper – Peru
Tokyo qualifiers (20 men, 20 women)
- Carissa Moore (USA)
- Caroline Marks (USA)
- Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)
- Silvana Lima (BRA)
- Brisa Hennessy (CRC)
- Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
- Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
- Johanne Defay (FRA)
- Yolanda Sequeria (POR)
- Teresa Bonvalot (POR)
- Daniella Rosas (PER)
- Leilani McGonagle (CRC)
- Mahina Maeda (JPN)
- Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN)
- Pauline Ado (FRA)
- Anat Lelior (ISR)
- Bianca Buitendag (RSA)
- Ella Williams (NZL)
- Sofia Mulanovich (PER)
- Dominic Barona (ECU)
- Gabriel Medina (BRA)
- Italo Ferreira (BRA)
- Kolohe Andino (USA)
- John John Florence (USA)
- Owen Wright (AUS)
- Julian Wilson (AUS)
- Jeremy Flores (FRA)
- Michel Bourez (FRA)
- Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
- Jordy Smith (RSA)
- Leon Glatzer (GER)
- Miguel Tudela (PER)
- Lucca Mesinas (PER)
- Manuel Selman (CHI)
- Hiroto Ohhara (JPN)
- Rio Waida (INA)
- Frederico Morais (POR)
- Billy Stairmand (NZL)
- Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR)
- Leandro Usuna (ARG)
Day 7 – Tokyo tickets for everyone!
After an emotional run of action in El Salvador, 39 of 40 tickets to Tokyo have today been confirmed, with a mixed bag of happiness and heartbreak the order of the day. The last place sees two Japanese surfers, Shun Murakami and Hiroto Ohhara, fighting it out for the right to be team-mates with the already-qualified Kanoa Igarashi.
With Murakami guaranteeing host nation Japan a second slot in the draw come July, it reopened his provisional qualification as the highest ranked surfer from the Asian region at the 2019 ISA Games, and after bowing out devastated yesterday, young Indonesian star Rio Waida – second ranked in the Asian region in 2019 – was over the moon today to learn he has indeed managed to qualified for Tokyo.
In a similar fashion on the women's side of proceedings, when two more Japanese surfers – Mahina Maeda and Amuro Tsuzuki – today qualified for Tokyo, it reopened another spot in the final 20, and 2004 WSL world champion Sofia Mulanovich from Peru earned the final female Tokyo berth on the strength of her 2019 gold at the PanAm Games. Argentina’s Leandro Usuna and Ecuador’s Dominic Barona have also earned Tokyo tickets after their silver medal performances at the 2019 PanAm Games.
The seven other women who booked tickets today were Portugal’s Teresa Bonvalot and Yolanda Sequeira, Costa Rica’s Leilani McGonagle, Peru’s Daniella Rosas, France’s Pauline Ado, and the aforementioned Mahina Maeda and Amuro Tsuzuki from Japan.
It’s definitely an amazing feeling. This is a goal that I set more than two years ago. I am super stoked for Tokyo
For the men, Germany’s Leon Glatzer, Chile’s Manuel Selman and Peru’s Lucca Mesinas and Miguel Tudela all earned their passage to Tokyo, while the battle for that last spot on Team Japan will go down to the final day, with Shun Murakami and Hiroto Ohhara locked in battle. While Murakami has a slight advantage, remaining in the main draw, Ohara is building momentum and rhythm taking the longer route through the repechage rounds.
Sadly local surfer Bryan Perez's fairy tale run through the field came to an end, but the 21-year-old will take huge amounts of confidence knowing he can mix it with the best in the world after a crazy week in El Salvador.
With one day to go and qualification all but locked in for an incredible 17 nations, all that remains to be decided are the individual and team medals. Japan and France are locked in a battle for gold, while the individual field is wide open, with only Jeremy Flores and Pauline Ado from France having won ISA gold before.
Tomorrow promises to be another incredible day of surfing so stay tuned to the ISA website here for all of the action!
Exploring El Salvador, Part 1
With the ISA World Surfing Games getting down to the business end of proceedings in El Salvador we figured we'd better bring you something from behind the scenes. Who better than Red Bull Airborne competitor Kevin Schulz, and Red Bull Airborne and ISA commentator Chris Coté to give us the lay of the land, both inside and outside of the event?
Our team is perched up in a snazzy villa sweating night and day to bring us these edits, and there's a couple more to come before the Salvadoran run is through. Have something you'd like to ask Kevin or Chris? Drop a comment below the video above on YouTube and we'll do our best to bring you the answers you need. Press play now and enjoy life in the Central American sun.
Day 6 – Let's get down to business!
Sixteen women and 17 men remain in the draw at the 2021 ISA World Surfing Games as we enter the last two days of competition. The waves keep on firing and the level of performance keeps on escalating as those still in the draw eye off that rarest of gems – a ticket to Tokyo.
Eight surfers officially punched their tickets to Tokyo today as they either progressed, or others lost to guarantee their regional ranking. Congrats to the day's happiest humans: Ramzi Boukhiam from Morocco, South Africa's Bianca Buitendag, Lucca Mesinas and Daniella Rosas from Peru, Kiwis Billy Stairmand and Ella Williams, Anat Lelior from Israel, and Portuguese star Frederico Morais.
Bryan Perez kept local hopes of a fairy tale alive after accounting for highly favoured surfers Leo Fioravanti, from Italy, and Indonesia's Rio Waida in consecutive rounds. France and Japan have been the two dominant teams in El Salvador, and while France already have two men and one woman qualified, Vahine Fierro and Pauline Ado are still in the draw fighting for that one last slot.
For Team Japan, Kanoa Igarashi is already booked in for Tokyo, while Shun Murakami and Hiroto Ohhara are still alive and competing for that final ticket, while for the women Mahina Maeda and Amuro Tsuzuki are both in contention to eliminate their compatriot Shino Matsuda, who provisionally qualified in 2019.
Day 5 – The podium looms as the waves keep pumping
After heavy rain in El Salvador, competitors woke to a chocolate-coloured ocean this morning. Thankfully, the quality of the waves on offer hadn't diminished one bit, though.
On the women's side of the draw, a handful of fired-up competitors made huge steps towards their goal of qualification for Tokyo. Portugal's Teresa Bonvalot, Peru's Daniella Rosas and Argentina's Lucia Indurain all won their main round heats to get a little closer to glory. Meanwhile, in the repechage rounds Australia's Sally Fitzgibbons and Tahiti's Vahine Fierro were among the standouts as they take the longer route to glory.
For the men it was a day of mixed results. El Salvador's Bryan Perez keeps working towards the home team's dream result, while Morocco's Ramzi Boukhiam, Peru's Lucca Mesinas and Daniella Rosas, and Japan's Shun Murakami are all still in the mix for an ISA medal and a ticket to Tokyo.
In the repechages, Australian superstar Owen Wright is looking ominous despite his earlier open round stumble, as are fellow WSL Championship Tour surfers Leo Fioravanti from Italy, Japan's Kanoa Igarashi, Matt McGillivray from South Africa and France's Jeremy Flores. We're down to the business end, with the final 12 tickets to Tokyo oh-so-close to being booked.
Day 4 – Repechage rounds run in sizzling surf
The fourth day of the ISA World Surfing Games ran in fantastic surf in El Salvador today and organisers took advantage of the conditions to run a full day of repechage heats. While many of the more fancied competitors had already skipped the repechage rounds, it didn't slow the action one bit, as every day surfed is a day closer to that all important ticket to Tokyo.
Sadly, the hopes of Peruvian legend Sofia Mulanovich are over, as the 2004 WSL World Champion (South America's first ever) bowed out of the event today.
"I'm just happy I got the chance to do it once again," said Mulanovich. “It’s not the best result, but I'm still happy to be here." Like the champion she is, Mulanovich will be with her team till the end: "I'm going to stay here and support my team. I’ll tell them to have fun, be active in the water and just surf.”
While it wasn't to be for Mulanovich, other leading hopefuls such as Japan's Amaro Tsuzuki and Mahina Maeda, and Barbados's Chelsea Tuach kept their dreams of success alive today.
On the men's side of proceedings, three past ISA champions had big wins today – Jhony Corzo from Mexico, Argentina's Leandro Usuna and Costa Rica's Noe Mar McGonagle.
Peru's Lucca Mesinas, Australia's Owen Wright and Morocco's Ramzi Boukhiam all advanced through their repechage heats, while Italian superstar Leo Fioravanti continued his irrepressible march to a medal with another strong performance.
Day 3 – Fresh swell arrives!
Fantastic conditions greeted competitors in El Salvador this morning, ironically just as the ISA World Surfing Games started to bid some of them farewell, as the first of the elimination rounds got underway. A first or second round loss doesn't mean going home at the ISAs, it simply means a longer route to glory, as the repechage rounds allow you to keep your hopes of Tokyo qualification alive.
Venezuelan surfers will be rejoicing today, after Rosanny Alvarez earned the women’s event-high heat total of 17.57, with two beautiful rides down the long point of El Sunzal, while on the men's side of the draw her compatriot Rafael Pereira, top scored on the day, with a 14.83 total.
On the women's side of the draw, Spain’s Nadia Erostarbe, USA’s Alyssa Spencer and Portugal’s Yolanda Sequeira did their countries proud today, while Japan’s Hiroto Ohhara and Argentina's Ignacio Gundesen were among men's standouts.
Day 2 – Big names hit the water
The second day of the ISA World Surfing games ran smoothly in El Salvador today, with great conditions on offer at the twin event sites of La Bocana and El Sunzal. On the women's side of proceedings the USA's Carissa Moore and Australia's Sally Fitzgibbons were the standouts, while Costa Rica's Leilani McGonagle, Spain's Ariane Ochoa, Israel's Anat Lelior and Indonesia's Taina Angel Izquierdo all took out heat wins.
Although she lost her heat, in one of the day's most significant moments, Imane Signate from Senegal spoke of the importance of her participating in this year's games.
“Being a woman and surfing in Senegal is not always easy because there are not many of us and it’s not really considered a female sport," Signate revealed. "Being here is already really good and it shows that there are some Senegalese women up-and-coming. I may be one of the first, but I know that there will be a lot in the future.
“Surfing is really going to help develop Senegal. Just us being here alone makes people think about Senegal. It puts us on the map as a destination to surf."
For the men, Brazil's Italo Ferreira was again a standout, alongside countryman Filipe Toledo, while El Salvador's own Bryan Perez had the home crowd going wild as he convincingly won his heat. Aritz Araburu also claimed a big win today.
Sadly many of the highest profile surfers have withdrawn from competition, after meeting their final Tokyo qualification requirement of surfing in El Salvador. Americans Moore and Caroline Marks have both departed early, as have surfers such as Brazil's Gabriel Medina and Tatiana Weston-Webb. This does, however, open up the playing field a lot more for those still trying to book their tickets to Tokyo, so stay tuned as the action continues to heat up in Central America.
Follow along with all of the ISA action from El Salvador at the official ISA website.
Day 1 – Competition kicks off in solid surf
After a long build-up and with surfers flocking from all corners of the globe to compete, the 2021 ISA World Surfing Games got underway today in El Salvador. Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele welcomed the athletes the previous day and the 51 competing nations participated in the traditional ISA Sands Of The World Ceremony, whereby sands from every country are poured into a common vessel to signify the unity, through surfing, of the competing nations.
With formalities in the rearview it was straight down to business on day one, the men running in the punchy beach break peaks of La Bocana, the women at the righthand point break of El Sunzal. As you'd expect, the top seeds ruled the show, from the WSL surfers – fresh from the Rip Curl Rottnest Search event in Western Australia – through to those surfers already provisionally qualified for Tokyo. There are five remaining male and seven female places left for July's Games and expect competition to heat up as qualification dreams loom larger as we get deeper into the draw.
Early standout performers included Brazil's Italo Ferreira, Australia's Ryan Callinan, and Indonesia's Rio Waida on the men's side of the draw, while American Alyssa Spencer, Portuguese Teresa Bonvalot and Peruvian legend Sofia Mulanovich were among the pick of the women. Expect fireworks on day two when big guns such as Caroline Marks, Carissa Moore, Michel Bourez and Jordy Smith take to the water for the first time.
Our team have just arrived in El Salvador to bring us fresh content and we can't wait to see performances heat up in the water as we get down to the business end of proceedings. Save this page in your bookmarks and keep checking back for more daily Salvadoran updates. How good! Follow along with all of the action at the official ISA website.