Jeremy Flores 

Under a growing swell and with water temps resembling that of a jacuzzi, the international contingency of some of the world’s best surfers congregated at Costa Rica’s Playa Hermosa for the sixth day of the Billabong ISA World Games fueled by Monster Energy today.

Team USA, who has been trying since 1996 to regain the gold medal in the Overall Team Standings, made a huge step today by keeping all of their remaining surfers alive.

The partial Overall Team Standings show a strong USA lead. The current top five nations are:
1º - USA - 19080 points
2º - Hawaii – 16960 points
3º - Australia – 16720 points
4º - South Africa -15040 points
5º - France -14040 points
Note: The above points show the potential maximum that each team can achieve. The final scores will be always lower

The morning rounds of competition bore witness to a low tide and a growing swell that produced some very contestable conditions as Hawaii’s Joel Centeio opened the day with a blistering performance, earning himself a win in his Open Men Round 4 heat against New Zealander Jay Quinn, Aussie Dayyan Neve and Brazil’s Gabriel Medina. Centeio, a seasoned competitor from the island of Oahu, has edged Team Hawaii closer to a solid standing. Going into day six, both Australia and the USA were tied for first while Hawaii held fast in third.

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Billabong XXL 

The National Weather Service today issued its latest report on the weather phenomenon El Niño, and their assessment may be great news for big wave surfers around the world.  According to the statement from the Climate Prediction Center, continued warming of equatorial waters over the past several months has verified the weather phenomenon is well underway and adds that "nearly all of the dynamical models predict a moderate-to-strong El Niño during the Northern Hemisphere winter 2009-10."

This forecast coincides with today's launch of the new event website for the 2010 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy.  The site features video and still photos of numerous massive waves from swell events worldwide over the last four months, including epic rides in Mexico during the south swell which rocked the west coast of North America less than two weeks ago.  The Billabong XXL Awards honors the biggest and best rides from anywhere in the world based on the photographic evidence.  The competition runs through the end of winter in March with the winners announced (and over $130,000 in prize money handed out) at a gala awards presentation each April.

El Niño conditions can affect the global climate in a number of ways including suppressing the development of Atlantic hurricanes and bringing drought-like dryness to Indonesia.  But to surfers a strong El Niño can mean supercharged storms in the North Pacific Ocean, bringing extraordinary high surf episodes to Hawaii and the West Coast of the US.  Some of the biggest waves ever recorded were produced during the hallmark El Niño seasons of 1969/70, 1982/83 and 1997/98.

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Ronald Reyes 

Big board performances became a key factor in their nations standing as the Longboard division opened today at the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games fueled by Monster Energy.

Under cloudy skies, sometimes pouring rain and choppy, shifting beachbreak, the big favorites along with a few small determined dark horses advanced to the next round in the most difficult conditions yet.

Underdogs like New Zealand and Venezuela who already have surfers qualified through to the next round, kept them competitive with advancing longboarders. Venezuela's team gathered as a group every time they had a heat in the water, chanting, cheering and waving their flags like men possessed.

“The enthusiasm from the Venezuelan team is so motivating,” said Ronald Reyes. “The support from my coach and my country makes a big difference.”

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