Carlos Muñoz

If you think Colombia, Switzerland, Ecuador, Germany and Austria aren't surfing nations, think again. On the opening day of the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games, each of these countries advanced, sometimes besting the big surfing nations in the process.

With thousands of spectators packing the thin line of fine black sand, Paul Grey from Germany won his heat against powerhouse surf nation of Brazil, Carlos Goncalves of Ecuador advanced over Tahiti and tiny landlocked Switzerland took a 2nd to move into Round Two. “We are so happy to be here,” said Tino Staheli, a Swiss team member. “The international level of surfing just keeps going up and up and up. Sometimes it is a bit intimidating!”

Ecuador, not exactly a top rated favorite in the event, had 3 major wins, taking advantage of the 3 to 4 foot changeable beachbreak waves.

"We have been training hard and I believe that was key to our wins today,” said Carlos Goncalves. Added winner Israel Barona, “I was lucky to find the best waves and do the things well in them. The competitors were good, but my wave ion was the major factor.”


Maxime Huscenot

Justine Dupont (Lacanau, FRA), 18, and Maxime Huscenot (REU), 17, claimed the ASP Grade-1 Sopelana Pro Junior today in the Basque Country, both champions taking their first title of the year in tricky two to three foot (0.5 to 1 m) waves at Sopelana. Respectively dominating the women’s and the men’s divisions, both event winners were able to finish atop an impressive 150-surfer field including some of Europe’s best Under-21 competitors to clinch valuable ratings’ points and solid confidence for the upcoming major ASP Pro Junior events.

Maxime Huscenot, the reigning ASP European Junior champion who was returning to competition in Europe after several months off tour for school obligations, showed he was back for good and in excellent form, the Reunion Island born surfer posting the event’s highest heat result with a total of 17.16 points (out of a possible 20) including a 9.33 point ride (out of a possible 10) for the best single wave score of the week.

“I am super stoked to win in this event,” Huscenot said. “The waves got back throughout the day and I am really happy to have made the best out of it. I was confident and tried a few tricks because I was feeling pretty good and the board I have been surfing for a couple of weeks now is just amazing.”

Huscenot, who defeated local favorite Jatyr Berasaluce (Sopelana, EUK) and outsiders Lewis St John (BRB) and Frederico Morais (PRT) in the final, had confidently advanced through all his previous battles in first place and remained unstoppable in the 30-minute decider, leaving runner-up Berasaluce with a second consecutive equal finish at his home event, his second in a row after San Sebastian.


Iker Acero was arrested on suspicions of cooperation with ETA

The Spanish surfing champion Iker Acero was released from prision on bail but is accused by the National Spanish Court of helping finance Segi, an unauthorized arm of the separatist armed group ETA.

His conditional freedom status also applies to Alberto Martínez Artola Arkaitz Gutiérrez, the other man arrested alongside with the spanish surfer. Iker Acero was arrested by the Civil Guard in the Basque Country (Spain) due to strong suspicions of connection with a website that was used to finance Segi.

The High Court asked for the custody of three suspects, but the judge decided to keep them on probation with the obligation to appear in court every night, arguing that there is no risk of committing new crimes.

The arrest of Iker Acero occurred on the same day that ETA had exploded a bomb outside the Civil Guard barracks, in Burgos, and days before a another bomb killef two policemen in the spanish island of Majorca.