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.