Shifty wave peaks challenge surfers at Playa Venao

April 18, 2012 | Surfing
Noe Mar McGonagle: his aerials reached blue skies

Onshore winds, stormy clouds and inconstant wave faces marked the third day of action at the 2012 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship. Playa Venao delivered rippable three-to-five-foot waves for the qualifying rounds of both Girls and Boys divisions.

Picking the right equipment and selecting the right spot to sit in the lineup has proven critical. The problem is that from 20-minute heat to 20-minute heat, the wave will shift and a strategy may become obsolete.

"I had it all planned for where I was going to sit and which waves to look for, but when I was running down the beach for my heat, I was watching it and it had totally changed," Ellie-Jean Coffey (AUS) said. "You have to be able to adapt out there because you never really know what to expect with these tides."

The shattered heat strategy didn’t much affect Coffey, as she went on to win her heat convincingly, putting the other three surfers in the combination situation, requiring two higher scores to match her. Coffey’s score of 15.83 was the highest of the day in the Girls division.

The top performance in the Boys competition came from Brazil’s Deivid Silva, who was a wave magnet in his heat, finding the biggest and longest waves to execute ferocious snaps and an array of aerial maneuvers. He finished with a two-wave total of 18.30, which included the highest single-wave score of the event, 9.97.

Other high-scoring standouts included Kaoli Kahokuloa (HAW), Tom Cloarec (FRA) and Tommy Boucaut (FRA) in the Under-18s, and Max Armstrong (RSA), Ian Gentil (HAW) and Vitor Bernardo (BRA) in the Under-16s.

Early in the event, Australia, Brazil, Hawaii, Japan, Portugal, South Africa, Tahiti and USA are still running strong, with multiple athletes still in the Qualifying Round (no Repechage heats have been run, so no surfers are yet eliminated). The top eight teams qualify to compete at the 2013 ISA China Cup.

"We just love Panama and its great waves. In one day of surfing is like surfing 3 or 4 surf spots," said Fernando Aguerre, the Presidnet of the ISA. "The weather has been incredible, and the vibe at the event is wonderful. I wish this event would last one whole month."

Other standouts in the Girls competition included Barbara Segatto (BRA), Karelle Poppke (TAH), Quincy Davis (USA) and Carina Duarte (POR), who took down South Africa’s Sarah Baum, one of the top-rated competitors in the event.

Another highlight of the morning came in Round 1 when Emily Gussoni of Costa Rica advanced through her heat in second behind Vania Torres (POR). At just 12 years old, Gussoni is one of the youngest competitors in the event.

"It’s my second [ISA World Championship event], and to get into the second round makes me feel very happy," she said. "I am very proud because I know I did my best."