Argentina and Panama Seeking First ISA World Masters Surfing Championship Team Medals in Nicaragua

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As a five-time national champion, Argentina’s Martin Passeri brings lots of experience to his national team, and he’s hoping it will translate to a spot on the medal podium in 2012. Photo: ISA/Rommel Gonzalez

Both Rosters Packed With National Champions and ISA Veterans

Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship
July 14 to 22, 2012
Colorado Beach at Hacienda Iguana, Nicaragua

In less than three weeks time, Argentina and Panama will begin seeking their first team medals at the Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship. With rosters full of seasoned ISA competitors and national champions, both countries should prove to be contenders to reach the podium.

The Nicaragua ISA World Masters, which will be contested in the world-class waves at Colorado Beach at Hacienda Iguana, brings together the best over-35-year-old surfers from nations around the world. More than 130 athletes from 25 nations will be competing for individual medals, team medals and the perpetual Eduardo Arena Trophy, which will be awarded to the Gold Medal-winning team.

Since it began competing at the ISA World Masters in 2008, Team Argentina has continually been a team on the cusp of success. In its first year of competition the team finished seventh overall and has consistently finished in the top eight in the events since. The team has yet to place one of its individual athletes on the medal podium, although it has come close a few times.

A former Argentinean national champion and a big-wave charger, Santiago Di Pace has proven he’s capable in any conditions he paddles out into. He’s finished in the top 12 in his division in every ISA World Masters he has entered, and last year he finished sixth in the Grand Masters division (over-40). Sebastian Galindo is also a former national champion, and will be competing alongside Di Pace in the same division.

Martin Passeri is one of the most decorated surfers on Team Argentina, with a record five national championships to his name. He’s currently the defending Argentinean champ and will be aiming to improve on his 13th-place finish at last years ISA World Masters Surfing Championship in El Salvador.

“Last year I didn’t surf the way I wanted and even knowing that the level is really high, I think I couldn’t show the best of my surfing. This year I feel better, more relaxed,” Passeri said. “In all of the events that the National Surfing Team competes in, we have the goal of working well as a team, to go and advance as a team, so we can improve our previous result. At each ISA World Masters Surfing Championship the teams are stronger, but we have been working together in the technical, physical and strategic aspects. This gives us better chances to get better results. We have a lot to give, and the goal is being able to show it in the water.”

Joining Passeri in the Masters division (over-35) will be Alejo Martinez, who’s also a national champion and a veteran of ISA competition. He finished 15th at the ISA World Masters in Santa Catalina, Panama in 2010.

In the Men’s Kahunas division (over-45), Horacio Ipucha and Luis Radziunas will represent Argentina. Ipucha finished in the top 10 in his division in the 2008 edition at Punta Rocas, Peru, while Radziunas is a newcomer to ISA World Masters competition.

Ernesto Gutierrez Conte will be the lone competitor for Argentina in the Men’s Grand Kahunas division (over-50). As for the Women’s Master division (over-35), Argentina will again have a single athlete, with former national champion Lucila Gil surfing for her first medal.

Team Panama will be arriving in Nicaragua with redemption on their minds. After finishing ninth overall while competing in front of their countrymen at Santa Catalina in 2010, the team fielded a roster of one in 2011 and freefell down the rankings.

Last year’s lone competitor, 10-time national champion Sonia ‘Pucha’ Garcia represented her country well, finishing ninth in the Women’s Masters division, after finishing sixth in 2010.

“We’re training hard for the event; I am swimming, doing yoga and surfing. This weekend we’re going to train together at Playa Morrillo, a wave that’s similar to Colorado,” Garcia said. “My next challenge is the podium. At Santa Catalina I was really close to making it happen and I know that with a good effort I am going to be able to make it there this year.”

Garcia can look to her teammate, Kenneth Myers for inspiration. In 2010, Myers won the Bronze Medal in the Men’s Grand Kahunas division – the first and only medal won by a Panamanian in ISA competition. He also finished in the top 15 in the Men’s Kahunas division. Myers will once again be pulling double-duty, competing in both divisions in Nicaragua.

Jon Hanna and Ricardo Alfaro both finished in the top 20 in the Men’s Masters division in 2010, and will be aiming to improve their standing in 2012.

Alcibiades Arosemena and Ricardo Chiari will fill out the final spots on the roster for Panama in the Men’s Grand Masters division. Chiari competed in 2010, while Arosemena is new to ISA World Masters competition.

The ISA World Masters Surfing Championship will begin on July 14 with the Opening Ceremony in Rivas, and competition at Colorado Beach at Hacienda Iguana will commence the following day.

Team Argentina Roster
Men’s Masters

Alejo Martinez
Martin Passeri

Men’s Grand Masters
Sebastian Galindo
Santiago Di Pace

Men’s Kahunas
Horacio Ipucha
Luis Radziunas

Men’s Grand Kahunas
Ernesto Gutierrez Conte

Women’s Masters
Lucila Gil

Team Managers
Carlos Grassi
Gustavo Huici

Team Panama Roster
Men’s Masters

Jon Hanna
Ricardo Alfaro

Men’s Grand Masters
Alcibiades Arosemena
Ricardo Chiari

Men’s Kahunas
Kenneth Myers

Men’s Grand Kahunas
Kenneth Myers

Women’s Masters
Sonia Garcia

Be sure to check in to www.isasurf.org for further updates about the event as they are released.