Surfing in Panama | Photo: CanasDelSolPanama.comSurfing in Panama | Photo: CanasDelSolPanama.com

A successful meeting between ISA President, Fernando Aguerre and Panamanian Minister of Tourism, Mr. Salomón Shamah was held during the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games in Costa Rica. Shamah showed a great deal of interest in letting the surfing community know that Panama is a “Surfing friendly” country. The campaign has already begun with an initiative by Panama´s main airline, COPA Airlines, by not charging extra fees for surfboards on most of their flights.

The promotion “Bring your Surfboard for Free to Panama,” runs between September 15 - November 15, 2009. It will resume on March 1, 2010 and run through May 30, 2010.

One board bag with a maximum of two boards inside is allowed per person on flights coming from the United States of America (Los Angeles, Orlando, Miami, Washington, and New York), Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, and Manaus) and Costa Rica (San José).

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Tsunami

More than 120 people were killed after a series of tsunamis hit the South Pacific.

The huge waves were triggered by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake in the region.

Reports indicate that at least 100 people were killed in Western Samoa, an island with 200,000 citizens.

Several tourist resorts and villages were destroyed.

In the neighbouring American Samoa, reports speak of 19 people losing their lives.

Another 10 deaths were reported on Tonga's northern island of Niuatoputapu.

The devastation in Samoa is huge and the population needs urgent support from the international community.

In the Lalomanu beach resort, more than 20 people were reported killed. This is a very popular destination for New Zealand and Australian holidaymakers.

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Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic

The opening day of the Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic saw current ASP World No. 5 Melanie Bartels (HAW), 27, and reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 21, lead the world’s best women’s surfers through Round 1 in two-to-three foot (1 metre) surf at Dee Why.

Gilmore stayed busy throughout her entire Round 1 heat today and emerged victorious in a tough battle over defending Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic champion Tyler Wright (AUS), 15, who eliminated Gilmore in Round 3 of last year’s competition, and 2005 ASP Women’s World Champion Chelsea Hedges (AUS), 25, to advance directly through to Round 3 with a solid 14.00 out of 20 heat total.

“I wasn’t really focusing on redemption over Wright, but it was more about shaking off the first heat nerves,” Gilmore said. “Chelsea (Hedges) and Tyler are a couple of my favorite surfers and Tyler did so well here last year, so I guess it felt good to come back with a win after a long break. It’s a bit disappointing that we’re not surfing at the point this morning, but it’s (Dee Why) a great wave and who knows what’s going to happen later in the week, maybe we’ll be up at the point for the Final, that’d be awesome.”

Although the talented regular-footer felt pressure entering the Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic after a long mid-year break, Gilmore showed no sign of nerves and the poise shown by the defending ASP Women’s World Champion carried her directly through to Round 3.

“I think there is pressure after such a long break,” Gilmore said. “There’s sort of that safety net of Round 2, but I wanted to go out there and surf hard and my equipment is amazing at the moment and I’m stoked to be through to Round 3.”

Aside from the pressure of returning to contest mode after a long break, Gilmore also expressed the weight of entering an ASP Women’s World Tour event as the top seed.

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