Nearly 200 surfers from 42 of the world’s best National Surfing Teams were greeted by an epic typhoon swell to open the competition at the 2018 UR ISA World Surfing Games (WSG).

The world-class talent competing in the event took full advantage of the conditions on offer, performing critical maneuvers and finding deep barrels in the beach break conditions.

South Africa’s Beyrick De Vries and Portugal’s Teresa Bonvalot were the standout competitors of the day, earning the highest heat totals in their divisions of 14.27 and 13.67, respectively.

Fernando Aguerre celebrates the opening of the competition with President of the Nippon Surfing Association Sakai Atsushi (left) and Mayor of Tahara Masahiro Yamashita (right). Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Fernando Aguerre celebrates the opening of the competition with President of the Nippon Surfing Association Sakai Atsushi (left) and Mayor of Tahara Masahiro Yamashita (right). Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Ian Gouveia, the sole representative of team Brazil in the event, advanced through his first-round heat in first place and spoke about the pride that he feels competing in the event.

“I am so stoked to be here surfing for Brazil,” said Gouveia. “Originally, I wasn’t sure if I was going to come, but I heard that the rest of my team wasn’t going to be able to make it and I knew I had to represent my nation here in Japan.

“My dad won this event 30 years ago in Puerto Rico, so that motivates me to follow in his footsteps and win it myself. I love competing in ISA events and I hope that I can perform well in this Olympic cycle ahead of Tokyo 2020.”

ISA Athletes’ Commission Chair Justine Dupont (FRA) breezes through the Women’s first round. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

ISA Athletes’ Commission Chair Justine Dupont (FRA) breezes through the Women’s first round. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

The two sole Iranian surfers put on valiant efforts in their country’s historic first appearance in the World Surfing Games.

Iran’s Salar Gheysari didn’t advance through his round 1 heat, but he expressed his emotion after taking a historic step for Surfing in Iran.

“Representing Iran is an honor for me and it is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life,” said Gherysari. “For the surfers in Iran it’s an inspiration and I think that it will hopefully drive others to follow their dreams.

“Iran’s goal in this event is not to win the Gold, but we expect to do the best surfing that we can, represent our country, and bring the honor back home.”

Due to the ISA’s double elimination format, Gheysari will get a second chance to advance through the event in the Repechage Rounds.

South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag, a strong contender to represent her nation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, surfed well in her round 1 heat and advanced in first place to the next round.

“It’s great to get out in the water with 42 other nations,” said Buitendag. “This is a really unique event that has the power to bring people together from all over the world. This event is another stepping stone to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, so I definitely want to win. We are getting ready for the World Surfing Games when it is an Olympic qualifier next year.”

Notably, Mexico’s Jhony Corzo and France’s Pauline Ado, the 2017 WSG defending champions, both advanced through their Round 1 heats in first place in their pursuit to repeat their Gold Medal performances.

Hiroto Ohara pleases the hometown crowd with a heat win in Round 1 of the Men’s Division. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Hiroto Ohara pleases the hometown crowd with a heat win in Round 1 of the Men’s Division. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:

“What an epic way to get the competition underway! The men and women both put on great performances, on huge waves, most likely inspired by the fast approaching Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“I also really enjoyed this time of total surfing camaraderie and I look forward to the next two years of pathways towards Surfing in the Olympics.

“Today the Men got the spotlight, surfing on the broadcasted podium, but tomorrow we will give the girls their turn to show their elite talent to the whole world on the live webcast. Don’t miss it!”

The schedule for competition on September 17 is as follows:

Podium A

  • 7:00am-8:20am: 4 heats Men Main Event Round 1
  • 8:20am-1:40pm: 16 heats Men Main Event Round 2
  • 1:40pm-4:20pm: 8 heats Women Main Event Round 2

Podium B

  • 7am-10am: 12 heats Women Repechage Round 1
  • 10am-12:30pm: 10 heats Men Repechage Round 1
  • 12:30pm-4:30pm: 16 heats Men Repechage Round 2

The schedule for the remainder event will be as follows*:

  • September 17-22** – Competition at Long Beach, Tahara
  • September 22 – Closing Ceremony at Long Beach following the close of competition

*Schedule subject to change due to conditions

** The Open Men’s Division will end no later than Friday, September 21 to accommodate athletes travelling to the WSL QS event in Portugal.

The 2018 UR ISA World Surfing Games will be broadcast live on www.isasurf.org September 15-22.

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