Nic Muscroft

Nic Muscroft (AUS), 26, won the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Prime Santa Surf Pro at Lanzarote today in the Canarian archipelago clinching valuable 3000 ratings’ points that rocket him to No. 10 on the international ratings and increases his chances of qualifying for next year’s ASP World Tour.

Muscroft, who defeated Oahu’s North Shore former ASP World Junior Champion Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) in wind blown three foot (one meter) waves at the world-class lefthander of San Juan, was impressive throughout the week with his consistency and unstoppable state of mind.

Muscroft, who posted a solid 14.43 point heat tally to best Bacalso’s threatening 14.00 point score (both out of a possible 20), was in good form all week and ended up winning his first event this year in a wave-starved 35-minute final battle where Bacalso was never able to find the 5.60 point ride he needed.

"It was gnarly, probably the gnarliest finish I have ever had," Muscroft said. "It was stressfull for me and I’m sure it was for Kekoa (Bacalso) as well. We had fifteen minutes with no waves right after I got my last one so I could not hope for more. He still had priority so I knew that he would make it if a wave came because he had been surfing so good the whole week."

Muscroft, who surfed seventeen ASP WQS events as well as most ASP World Tour contests thanks to an injury replacement wildcard, eventually sees his efforts pay off with the biggest win of his career to date.

"I feel like I have been surfing good the whole year and been pretty consistent," Muscroft said. "I knew it was more a matter of time before something came through with a big result so it is just amazing. I am over the moon right now."

Muscroft jumps from No. 25 to No. 10, and with three major events only remaining before the end-of-the-year Top 15 is decided and climbs into next year’s ASP World Tour, the Santa Surf Pro champion will be confident in the upcoming event in Portugal.

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Australia conquers the World Surfing Games 2008

Australia won their third consecutive ISA World Surfing Games Team Championship and gold medals today in Costa de Caparica. This was their fourth out of the seven editions in the history of the event. It was a sunny, beautiful day at Marcelino beach, with waves improving from yesterday and reaching three feet with good conditions.

Sally Fitzgibbons (Gold) in Open Women; Dayyan Neve (Bronze), Heath Joske (Silver) and Kai Otton (Copper) in Open Men; Harley Ingleby (Silver) in Longboard; and Lilly Pollard (Copper) in Bodyboard Women are all members of the Aussie team that made it into their respective finals.

They added important points towards the final Team Standings that gave Australia a strong win of almost 3,000 points ahead of Team USA who came in second and won silver medals.

The final team standings are as follows:
Gold: Australia - 17,238 pts.
Silver: USA - 14,284 pts.
Bronze: Brazil - 12,610 pts.
Copper: France - 11,819 pts.

The CEO of Surfing Australia, Mark Lane explained his point of view on Australia's great record in the Games. "I think the secret and one of our team goals is all about having fun while we're here, to be laughing all the time. And it's also in the Australian culture that we're never giving up. We're always encouraging people to never give up and to keep surfing well".

"It's a great feeling to win again. It's really a hard week to watch and go through every heat. You've got to deal with disappointments. You feel everything and when you come out of this and win, it just feels great."

In a tough heat that had as main favourites - the locals Manuel Centeno and Hugo Pinheiro (gold and silver medal winners in the 2006 Games) - surfing in their home turf, Brazilian Marcus Lima stole the show.

He surfed quickly to put some scores under his belt, posting a 6.20 and an 8.30. By mid heat he started to work his strategy on Centeno, who was second. This caused a hassle which ended up with an interference call: Centeno on Lima. Pinheiro and Lee had also interference calls.

With the other bodyboarders, Pinheiro and David Lee (ZAF) not catching many waves, the Brazilian was announced as the new World Champion when the horn sounded.

"I just can't believe it! I am not even the Brazilian Champion and now I'm a World Champion!" said the Brazilian while he was cheered by his entire team. "I am so happy. The Brazilian team was absolutely great. When they told me that I was coming here a year ago, they said to me that I had to win the gold. Now I have a clean conscience because I know I got what I came to do".

Centeno ended in second, Pinheiro third and Lee fourth.

Natasha Sagardia from Puerto Rico entered the surfing history books, becoming the first ever Puerto Rican to win a Gold Medal in the ISA World Surfing Games. Sagardia led her heat from the beginning until the end. A combined score of 13.96 gave her the win.

Sagardia was received and carried in the arms of her teammates and cried all the way through the beach. "I can't stop crying! I'm super excited. I don't know if this is real! This is crazy, I was just thinking, please God let me get the right waves and surf like I know. This is a dream come true. I've been working so hard to be here, I can't even believe it." 

Bourroux (FRA) placed second, Pires (CRC) third and Pollard (AUS) fourth.

At 17, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) has made it into the history books by becoming Gold Medalist in both the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship and the ISA World Surfing Games in the same year. No one has ever achieved this before.

Sally started slow in her final heat against Marie Dejean (FRA), Camila Cassia (BRA) and Laureen Sweeney (USA). She waited 12 minutes for a good wave. When it came, she scored an 8.90 then an 8.20 soon afterwards to take the lead and become the ISA World Champion and gold medalist.

"I was lucky to get some waves. Conditions were really difficult and all the girls were surfing really well. This is an amazing contest with an amazing atmosphere. I am definitely the happiest woman on earth. I just couldn't imagine a better year", said the stoked Aussie after her final heat.
 
Dejean placed second, Cassia third and Sweeney fourth.

Matthew Moir (ZAF) won for the second time in a row the Gold Medal in the Longboard division of the Games. He not only won the final of both events, he actually won every heat he entered at Huntington Beach 2006 and at Costa de Caparica in 2008. He´s now looking forward to match Marcelo Freitas record as a three-time consecutive Longboard winner.

Moir posted an almost perfect 18.12 combined score (9.22 and 8.90) to leave Harley Ingleby (AUS) in a close second, Taylor Jensen (USA) in third and Phil Rajzman (BRA) in fourth.

"I'm so, so stoked. I never thought I would have the chance to win two years in a row. Marcelo Freitas won it three years in a row and I did it two times so I'm pretty happy for that. I had a great support from my teammates at the beach. That was amazing, I just can't believe it." Said the South African.

Team USA surfer and ASP World Tour World Champion in 2001, CJ Hobgood had a great day today. It started with him falling to the repercharge final, but it ended amazingly with a Gold medal around his neck. 

The Open Mens final included three World Tour surfers but started with the great Aussie talent, Heath Joske, posting a solid 8.40 and taking the lead for the first ten minutes. But the US surfer maintained calm and midway through the heat, he took the lead after riding a nice right and scoring an 8.60 that was backed up with a 7.20.

With three minutes to go and Joske needing a 7.41, CJ started using tactics and didn't let the Aussie catch a wave. When the horn sounded, he was all smiles and said: "It feels so good right now. I had to compete against three Aussies that I have a great respect for. It was a really good final with me and Joske going back and forth.

And coming towards the end, I didn't know if I should sit on him or not. But I knew that if he would've caught a wave and got the score, an opportunity that I might not have again would've been lost. It's a great feeling. These opportunities don't come back too often so to take advantage of it. It is amazing!"

After he was awarded the Gold Medal, CJ thanked International Surfing Association President, Fernando Aguerre "I would like to thank Fernando for his tireless job promoting surfing and for organizing the Games. This is a great and unique event."

Dayyan Neve placed third and Kai Otton fourth.

An emotional Closing Ceremony took place on the beach today in front of a great crowd of locals and the Games' participants from 29 nations. The finalists received their medals and anthems of the winning countries were sung.

ISA President Fernando Aguerre thanked the Authorities of the hosting city, Almada; the organizer, Natural Factor; the ISA Contest Officials and all the teams that travelled from all over the world to be part of the competition.

"This is a show of surfing but is, most importantly, a show of brotherhood between the nations of the world. In the last heat of today for the Open Mens division, we saw one US surfer and three Australians. Their surfing in that heat symbolized the World Surfing Games and the ISA spirit. It could've been very difficult for one guy surfing against three of the same nation, but they all surfed together with good sportsmanship," Aguerre said.

The Ceremony was closed with ISA President welcoming the upcoming Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship 2009 that will be held in March in Ecuador and the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games 2009 to take place in August in Costa Rica.

World Champions
Gold: Australia - 17.238 pts.
Silver: USA - 14.284 pts.
Bronze: Brazil - 12.610 pts.
Copper: France - 11.819 pts.

Open Men
Gold: CJ Hobgood (USA)
Silver: Heath Joske (AUS)
Bronze: Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Copper: Kai Otton (AUS)

Open Women
Gold: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
Silver: Marie Dejean (FRA)
Bronze: Camila Cassia (BRA)
Copper: Lauren Sweeney (USA)

Bodyboard Men
Gold: Marcus Lima (BRA)
Silver: Manuel Centeno (POR)
Bronze: Hugo Pinheiro (POR)
Copper: David Lee (ZAF)

Bodyboard Women
Gold: Natasha Sagardia (PRI)
Silver: Heloise Bourroux (FRA)
Bronze: Rita Pires (POR)
Copper: Lilly Pollard (AUS)

Longboard
Gold: Matthew Moir (ZAF)
Silver: Harley Ingleby (AUS)
Bronze: Taylor Jensen (USA)
Copper: Phil Rajzman (BRA)

Aloha Cup
Gold: France
Silver: Portugal
Bronze: Costa Rica
Copper: South Africa

World Surfing Games

In small and inconsistent two feet waves the finalists of the repercharge and main event were defined in the seventh day of the ISA World Surfing Games that are taking place in Costa de Caparica. Only one day of competition remains now to know who´s going to be the new World Champions and the Overall Nations gold medallist.

Despite the conditions, amazing surfing action was on offer, thanks to the likes of CJ Hobgood (USA), Luis Vindas (CRI), Kai Otton (AUS), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Matthew Moir (ZAF), Phil Rajzman (BRA) and other 16 surfers who went to the water today and did their job to reach the final day and the top 6 spots in each division. Out of the 233 surfers that started the event, the best 30 will surf tomorrow.

All the divisions hit the water today, with some "reperchargers" competing three times. And out of the whole bunch, only two survived and are now one step away from the big final in each division. On Main Events rounds, four untouched surfers are also one step away from the medals.

The Overall Team standings ratings are now like this:
1st Australia
2nd USA
3rd Costa Rica
4th France
5th Brazil

Costa Rica confirmed its status as the new great surfing nation, putting their name in the elite group of the world´s most developed surfing nations.

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Call it a lip drop, airdrop or the world's biggest floater. One thing is certain: Kai Lenny opened a new chapter in high-performance big wave riding.

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