World Surfing Games 2008 

The ISA World Surfing Games were declared officially open today in the Costa de Caparica Sports Arena, with cheers and applauses of joy coming from more than 300 surfers from 29 countries. Cheers and applauses were ignited by the words of the ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, who said: “I’m going to ask a favour of everybody, I want you to be very loud, so our noise can be heard in Switzerland, where the International Olympic Committee is, because one day we’re going to be part of the Olympic Games. So I declare the ISA World Surfing Games officially open”!

The colors of the world shined bright today during the traditional Parade of Nations and the Sands of the World Ceremony. All the National Surfing Teams were welcome by ISA President, Fernando Aguerre; the Mayor of the City of Almada, María Emilia De Sousa; the President of the Portuguese Surfing Federation, Guilherme Bastos; the Organizer of the event, Miguel Inacio; the representative of Portugal Sports Bureau Nuno Laurentino; the Deputy of Costa de Caparica, Antonio Neves; and first Portuguese surfer, Pedro Lima.

There was abundant laughter, chanting, dancing and cultural tradition that took place while the countries poured their sand into the event sandbox. New Zealand performed the Haka, Peru presented the traditional Totora Horse to the Portuguese Federation President, a happy Portugal team was applauded by the local fans and the Puerto Ricans sang. Afterwards, the pouring of the sands symbolized the peaceful union of the world through surfing.

In a lively speech, ISA President Fernando Aguerre said: “We are here together - black, white, yellow - people of every race, colour and religion. We are a great surfing family!  We get together three times a year, united by the love for surfing.” He concluded, saying: “The most important word in every language Thank you. Thank you Portugal, thank you Almada, thank you Costa de Caparica, thank you Portuguese Surfing Federation, thanks everybody for having us here. ¡Muchas gracias!”.

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Layne Beachley 

Layne Beachley (AUS), 36, former seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion and current No. 3 on the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour ratings, has officially announced her retirement from full-time competition, effective at the end of the year.

“I feel like now is a really good time, even though I am in my career best form, because I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl and to achieve the goals I set for myself in surfing, I have to give it my all and I’m not,” Beachley said. “I have to be honest with myself – I’m not commiting 100% time and energy and effort and focus into winning world titles. It doesn’t mean that I can’t win world titles, but my priorities are beginning to shift and my focus and my passion in business and charity work and my ambassador roles is beginning to have more appeal to me than competing for a living. I feel like I’ve achieved everything that I’ve wanted to and that it is good to go out while I’m still in top form.”

Beachley’s announcement comes as a surprise to the surfing community, given that the iconic natural-footer is surfing better than ever and currently challenging for the ASP Women’s World Title once again, sitting in No. 3 spot on the ratings at present.

“I feel like I’m surfing the best I have in my whole career,” Beachley said. “Nothing has really changed on tour except for my attitude. It’s my lack of commitment to winning. I base my choices off my experiences and my experience has told me that you have to be 100% focused and also love you’re doing. Even though I love what I do, I’m beginning to love what I’m doing out of the water more. My passion for competitive surfing has been diluted, and to achieve success and to win world titles, you can’t afford for it to be diluted too much. So now I’ve had to make a decision and I’m convinced I’m doing the right thing.’

The Sydney-sider is the most accomplished female surfer in the history of the sport, winning a record seven ASP Women’s World Titles (1998-2004, 2006), scalping 29 elite tour victories, and collecting countless accolades as one of surfing’s most recognizable figures.

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CJ Hobgood 

Former ASP World Champion C.J. Hobgood (USA) defeated Joel Parkinson (AUS) in three-foot (one meter) barreling waves at the Billabong Pro Mundaka to claim his first ASP World Tour victory in four years today.

The heat was a déjà vu affair of a 2004 final they shared in Japan with Hobgood garnering a last minute win over Parkinson in the dying seconds of the heat.

“If I was Joel I would want to kill me right now,” Hobgood said. “I honestly don’t know how that happened. Some things are just meant to be. I’ve had a very difficult year. I probably struggled with my surfing more than I should have, but that’s life. You get older and life throws curve balls at you and that’s what makes this feeling right now so good.”

Despite opening the heat with a near-perfect 9.93, Hobgood was trailing Parkinson by 5.90 points with 15 seconds to go. With a set approaching, Parkinson took the first wave in an effort to increase his lead. Hobgood snuck into a small barrel on the wave behind it, earned an 8.57 and won the heat.

“Me and Joel were looking at that last wave and he was thinking about it hard,” Hobgood said. “I just made sure he was going to go or I was going to go. I didn’t know there was another one behind it, but I did hear a couple of whistles and turned around and saw the wave. I knew it was my last chance. I put my head down and didn’t even look at the wave and paddled to the shoulder as hard as I could because I didn’t want to get stuck behind it. I saw Joel in the peripheral and just threaded the needle. I could have been a little bit greedier, but I knew if I got a barrel and rode the rest of the wave I’ve have a good chance.”

Hobgood moves to ASP World No. 6 with the result today. Parkinson moves to ASP World No. 3. The final was Hobgood’s second this season – he lost to Slater in Fiji – and Parkinson’s first.

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