Bigger Swell and Barrels Abound at the Nicaragua ISA World Masters.
Hawaii Wins the Team Gold Medal at the ISA Aloha Cup
Surf News, 22 July, 2012 : The much-anticipated big swell finally arrived on Day 7 of the Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship. Just a slight change in swell direction made a significant difference in the conditions at Colorado Beach at Hacienda Iguana, with long, clean barrels being ridden nearly every heat.
Heat 2 of the Main Event of the Men’s Grand Masters (over-40), between Sunny Garcia (HAW), Junior Maciel (BRA) and Dean Randazzo (USA) produced the highest scores of the day. After the morning had delivered some of the best barrels of the event, the afternoon session revealed the true, world-class identity of Colorado Beach at Hacienda Iguana.
Garcia and Randazzo went barrel-for-barrel in their heat. With the energy on the beach rising with the tide, and the conditions getting better and better, Randazzo stroked into a six-foot plus set, made his bottom-turn, stuck his arm in the wave face and then raced through a picture-perfect five-second barrel. He was rewarded the first perfect 10 of the event.
“That wave was so fun. I’m from New Jersey and we have long barrels there also, so I felt like I was back home riding that wave,” Randazzo said. “Sunny is a gnarly competitor and when you are competing against someone like him you need to give it your best.”
Team Hawaii wins the Aloha Cup © ISA / Parkin
The very next wave, Garcia, who was already sitting on a 9.17, got into a big barrel of his own, parked himself deep and raced out before it shut down. He received a score of 9.97, and won the heat with a two-wave score of 19.14. Randazzo finished in second with an 18.67.
“They decided to postpone and the waves got really good. I’m happy because it’s just like home, a sandbar I like to surf; just getting barreled and just having fun,” said Garcia, who was mobbed by cameras and spectators at the shoreline after his heat, and greeted by applause from fellow competitors.
Garcia’s performance came just after his teammate, Kaipo Jaquias had dominated his heat and come out of what was originally the best barrel of the event. Jaquias advanced with a 15.57, along with Hans Hagen (USA).
Though the afternoon session proved to be the highlight of the day, the morning heats were almost equally as stunning.
In Garcia’s Masters heat, he was up against Armando Daltro (BRA) and Rick Takahashi (USA). Daltro is an ASP World Tour veteran and 2000 WQS world champion; Garcia is a former ASP World Tour Champ. Most of Takahashi’s successes in surfing have come at the national level. And yet, it was Takahashi who was surfing the best, at a world championship-level.
Sunny Garcia © ISA / Parkin
Takahashi and Garcia had a pair of barrel exchanges, and it was Takahashi who came out on the winning end, after navigating a long, offshore-wind-groomed tube. He won the heat with a two-wave score of 13.5, just ahead of Garcia (13.3) and Daltro (13.2).
When Takahashi came out of the water, teammate Shea Lopez was there to meet him, flying the American flag high and yelled, “Dude, you just beat Sunny Garcia!”
“My goodness, that barrel came out of nowhere,” said Takahashi, a huge smile across his face. “Sunny took the first one, then I got mine and turned up the heat on that one, because Sunny had first place. It was fun. All these guys surf really well; if anyone got those waves it wouldn’t be me [getting through], so I’m just blessed I got those waves.”
In the heat prior to the Takahashi/Garcia duel, Magnum Martinez (VEN) used a combination of barrel-riding and high-performance moves to beat Jaquias, who’s been dominant all event. Garcia, Jaquias, Martinez and Takahashi are now just one heat away from the Men’s Masters Grand Final.
The following heat, the Women’s Masters (over-35) took to the water and the action continued to be fast-paced and exciting. Rochelle Ballard (HAW) came out of back-to-back barrels and had the field in the combination situation just minutes into the heat. She won handily, with a score of 14.17, qualifying for the Grand Final, along with Lucia Gil (ARG), the first ever Argentinean woman to be in the final of an ISA World Championship.
“It was fun now that the waves have picked up. I found a couple of barrels and I’m just surfing and doing my best,” Ballard said. “I’m so glad that the Argentinean girl (Gil) went through the heat. This is a great event. I just have to stay humble and continue surfing. You can’t think too far ahead in this competition.”
In total, 14 competitors and three nations were eliminated from the event today. The USA lost its first athlete, Shea Lopez, but still leads in the race for Team Gold and the perpetual Eduardo Arena Trophy.
Hawaii Wins the Gold Medal at the ISA Aloha Cup
A closely contested Final of the ISA Aloha Cup came down, simply, to finishing. Any team that does not complete all 15 of its rides (3 per competitor) is penalized. With Glen Pang in the lineup needing one ride – any ride – to lock down the win, he managed to catch a small one and stand-up. He reached the shoreline with 15 seconds to make it into his team’s zone to prevent Australia from winning Gold. With four seconds to go, he crossed the line and secured the win for Hawaii.
The ISA Aloha Cup is a unique tag-team event that is run at every ISA World Championship, featuring eight qualifying nations. Each team includes five athletes (4 men, 1 woman) to compete in the semifinal/final format.