Peter Rangel: a master in disguise

Santa Catalina’s perfect, long and hollow 6 to 10 foot waves marked a great start of the Panama ISA World Masters Surfing Championship. The best Master surfers from 21 countries finally wore the competition jerseys and started moving in the track that leads to the gold medal and a World Championship.

After three days of pouring rain and onshore winds, the sun finally came out, revealing a field of mud throughout the contest venue. In a Woodstock-like environment, surfers, team members and fans weren’t caring too much about the dirt and mud covered clothes. What was important today was the gathering of the worldwide surfing tribe, the spirit of this great annual event, and the incredible display of high performance surfing that was seen in Round 1 of the Master (Over 35) and Grand Master (Over 40) divisions.

Dominican Republic National Team surfer Robert Reid gave a great example of the spirit of this event, “The mud doesn't matter; the waves are incredible and we’re having a great time. With waves like this, it can snow and it wouldn't matter.

Sixteen heats were held with a small break of one hour due to the low tide and dangerously shallow conditions. The usual suspects of Australia, Brazil, Puerto Rico and South Africa were the only countries that had all their surfers making it to the next round through the main event.

Grand Master Andre Malherbe (South Africa) made the best performance of the day, posting a combined score of 15.43, awarded after a sensational display of powerful carving manouevers.

In the same division, 2007 ISA World Masters Champion Magoo de la Rosa (Peru), showed no signs of weakness. His powerful backside looks better than when he was 20, and with single wave scores of 6.83 and 8.17, he made the second best combined score of the day (15.00).

“I’m happy about my performance but I’ve to say it was a tough heat. The tide changes a lot and makes it difficult to find waves, I only grabbed two”, said de la Rosa. “This is a long contest and you’ve to take it step by step, see different strategies with every surfer, every heat. I´m having a great time here, Santa Catalina is a beautiful place and the waves are great.” 

Other highlights in the Grand Masters division, winning their heats with impressive surfing were Glen Pringle (Australia), Fabio Gouveia (Brasil), Juan Ashton (Puerto Rico), Robert Boyle (South Africa), Horacio Ipucha (Argentina) and Chris Brooks (Australia).

On the Masters side, the best surfing was displayed by Dean Hall (AUS) who, after linking several strong moves on his best two waves, posted the highest combined and single wave score of his division (14.33 with a 7.83 and a 6.50). Wayne Monk (RSA) tied Hall, also posting a 7.83 to make it through in first place on his heat.

Former Venezuelan National Champion Sergio Martins defeated Carlos Santos from Brazil, performing precise and clean off the lips and cutbacks. “The waves were amazing, no wind, and there were some barrels," said Martins. This is just the beginning. There are World Champs in the event and the level of surfing is really high. The Venezuelan Team is having a good time. Our motto is, 'Unity, strength and conviction'.”

With a total of 114 heats, 48 hours of contest, the Panama ISA World Masters Surfing Championship has just begun. Tomorrow, day 2 of the event, we will see the first round of Women Masters, Kahunas and Grand Kahunas going to the water as well as the second round of the main event of Masters.

Billy Stairmand: Kiwis like Pantin

Billy Stairmand (NZL) 20, claimed the Ferrolterra Movistar Pantin Classic presented by Billabong 2010 title defeating Pablo Paulino (BRA) in a tight, low scoring final. Claiming his maiden ASP Men’s Star-Series victory Stairmand becomes the second Kiwi to take out the Pantin Classic after Maz Quinn took out the title in 2005.

A small 1-2ft (0.50cm) wind swell was on offer for today’s final day of competition at the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) sanctioned event. Officials were forced to make the most of the incoming tide to run the remaining heats at a mobile site 500m down the beach.

It was a day for the light-weight small-wave specialists who were able to remain on the rail of their boards to combine smooth turns in the tricky conditions. Wave selection and use of priority also played a major role in the tactics used during each clash.

Billy Stairmand (NZL) looked the firm favourite as the swell remained small during the final day of the official waiting period. Fast, smooth, flowing turns were Stairmand’s trademark manoeuvres as he defeated Pedro Henrique (BRA) in the quarter-finals, Nathaniel Curran (USA) in the semis and eventually took out Pablo Paulino (BRA) in the 35-minute final.

“I’m lost for words really. I came here with some really good boards and they have gone so good in these small waves. Perfect conditions for them and it has been a really fun week here in Pantin. I wasn’t really thinking about the conditions today. I was just taking it heat by heat and it worked out for me.”

Trailing at the halfway mark Stairmand snuck under Paulino’s priority on a wave which eventually gave him the title.
“Pablo didn’t take that one and I paddled into it and the start was good. I managed to do two turns and then I milked it through to the shore and was lucky enough to get the score to just get on top of him,”

As the tide continued to rise, the final wave-starved minutes turned into a cat and mouse battle as Paulino searched in vain for the required score to take back the lead.

“I was so nervous,” commented Stairmand. “I was sitting on him the entire time and I caught some other waves but it didn’t rattle him at all and in the end no more waves came through so it was really good. The round of 24 in a 6-Star contest is the best I have ever done so to actually win a 6-Star is absolutely unbelievable, I just can’t believe it right now.”

Runner-up Pablo Paulino was also displaying some big turns in the small conditions to make his way to the final where his overall result is his best so far for 2010. Getting off to a solid start and looking like a clear winner Paulino went in search of another high scoring ride which never eventuated.

“The final didn’t have the same waves as in the semis and I was waiting for a wave but they never arrived. I am very happy with this result which is my biggest this year. I am not very high on the rankings and I have a lot of pressure on me so this result is for my sponsors too. My dream is to do one better in my next contest.”

“My boards are so good for small waves and today I surfed really well and I am happy to have taken out the big name surfers like Heitor (Alves) and Tom Boal. All the heats were so hard out there and to make the final is really great.”

Nathaniel Curran (USA), equal third, stormed through the quarter-finals ousting Sebastien Zietz (HAW) to gain an edge on the field with his crisp turns and speed through the slow flat sections of the waves. Coming unstuck against Stairmand in semi-final nº1, Curran was left with no options as the waves turned off during the final minutes of his heat.

“It looked like Billy was going on the shore break but the two waves he got definitely had something to work with and he got the scores. I sat out there waiting for a set but nothing came through in the end so not much I could do.”

“Billy is probably the lightest of everyone left in the event,” explained Curran. “He has this tiny little board which seems to go really well for him. We were out there and this one set came through but we were out of position so that really sealed the heat for me.”

Tim Boal (FRA) finished equal third overall to finally get back into some form and make it through to the business end of the event. Downing local favourite Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) in the quarters, Boal then went on to lead his semi-final clash against Paulino with an excellent 8.83. With only minutes left and without priority Boal had to watch on as Paulino picked off the last remaining scoring wave of the heat to take back the lead and deny Boal a finals appearance.

“It is a bit disappointing finishing in these waves especially after all the good waves we’ve had this week. It went from really good to fun every other day so it is a shame. Overall a third is a good event for me. This year I am not really chasing points just working on things for next year so it is a good step forward.”

“It was a long year last year and then a tough beginning to this year,” continued Boal. “I am still competing but it is hard when you are not 120% into it all the time. I’m just working on my technique and other things and not really looking for scores so it is maybe starting to pay off now. I will have to see how it goes in the next events.”

Ferrolterra Movistar Pantin Classic Presented by Billabong Final Result
Billy Stairmand (NZL) 13.56 Def. Pablo Paulino (BRA) 12.33

Nuns Beach: God surfs here | Photo: Bill Cramer

The 15th annual Nun's Beach Surf Invitational will be held on September 11, Stone Harbor, New Jersey, USA.

It may look strange, but it is true. The Villa Maria by the Sea retreat is putting up a surfing competition. The story goes back to the 50's when a group of surfers asked the local nuns if they could ride the waves of the retreat's beach.

They said yes and the spot was baptized "Nun's Beach". In 1996, local surfers decided to give back all the love to the nuns and started a competition to raise funds to maintain the nun's retreat.

The relationship between surfers and nuns is great. Some day, we might see God hitting the line-up.

The $15 T-shirts will be available at the event to support the retreat.