Depending on the Tides in Panama, Power Surfing, Aerials and Barrels Could All Come Into Play
DaKine ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong
April 14 to 22, 2012
Playa Venao, Panama
For an event featuring the top young surfers in the world, there’s a detailed checklist involved with selecting the proper host country. There are countless infrastructure requirements and peripheral details that go into making the right choice. And then there’s the most critical element, the one that goes beyond the control of the local government; an element that only nature can dictate: the wave.
Which is why after assessing the bids of several countries to host the DaKine ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong, Panama, with its desire to run the event at Playa Venao, proved the best option.
“If you’re going to ask a country to send their best athletes, you had better have the best venue to host them, and that’s what we have with Playa Venao,” explained Fernando Aguerre, the President of the ISA. “Between the exposure to swells, the tropical climate and the favorable winds, we have everything we need for a fantastic event.”
Thirty nations from around the world clearly agreed with Aguerre, and as a result more than 300 of the best male and female under-18 surfers are making the trip to Panama to compete in the world’s largest and most important junior surfing event.
“April is typically a good time of year for swell and wind on the Pacific side of Panama,” said Mark Willis, the Global Forecast Development Manager for Surfline, which is the Official Forecaster for the event. “An average day in April would roughly produce fun, shoulder high to 1- to 2-feet overhead surf for the Playa Venao beach break.”
Willis also pointed to another one of Playa Venao’s attractive surfing variables, its constant offshore winds beginning in the mornings and continuing through the afternoons. Late afternoons onshore breezes can also come into play.
The waves at Playa Venao also drastically change with the tidal shifts, entirely transforming the character of the wave from long A-frame walls, to hollow, dredging barrels. Some days power surfing will be the best approach, other times the most innovative aerial will land the highest scores, and then on those days when pulling-in is the best approach, tube-riding acumen will determine the heat winners. What this means for the competitors is that they’d better have fine-tuned their all-around ability.
This won’t be the ISA’s first appearance in Panama or at Playa Venao. Just last year, the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games took place at the same venue and just as Willis described, that eight-day event had waves ranging from chest-high to slightly overhead from beginning to end.
The DaKine ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong begins on April 14 with the traditional ISA Opening Ceremony, which includes a Parade of Nations and the Sands of the World Ceremony. Competition will begin on the morning of the 15th.
The Opening Ceremony and the competition can be viewed live at www.dakineisawjsc.com/live.
The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; and World StandUp Paddle (SUP) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012.
ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 100 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. The ISA’s four Vice-Presidents are Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL).