ISA World Masters Surfing Championship: Pairing the Best Over-35 Surfers With Epic Conditions Since Its Beginning

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Former ASP World Tour competitor Ross Williams (HAW) was shredding last year in El Salvador at the ISA World Masters, winning the Copper Medal in his division. Photo: ISA/Watts

Current and Former World Champions and Top Pros Will be Putting on the ISA Masters Singlet in Nicaragua

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

The ISA World Masters Surfing Championship seems to be an event blessed by Mother Nature. Since the event’s inception in 2007, swells have arrived right on schedule each year and remained for the duration of the respective contest.

The best over-35-year-old competitors from surfing’s superpower nations and countries with growing surf scenes have been graced with overhead, rippable waves everywhere the ISA has taken them – from Rincon, Puerto Rico to Punta Rocas, Peru to Santa Catalina, Panama. If history repeats itself, the 2012 Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship will experience pumping conditions at Colorado Beach at Hacienda Iguana.

“Call it good luck or good fortune, but it seems Mother Nature is happy we decided to create a Masters event,” ISA President Fernando Aguerre said.

Of course, this is not just good fortune. Due to the importance of the ISA World Masters, extensive work goes into selecting a suitable venue each year. This year, the wave at Colorado Beach transforms from a barreling beachbreak on low tide to a skate park on higher tides, with long, open faces. Even when the winds come up, they blow favorably due to the Lake Nicaragua Effect, a natural phenomenon, which causes the winds to blow offshore most of the year.

Along with great weather and wave conditions, the names who’ve donned the ISA Masters lycra singlets are a veritable who’s-who of surf stardom: ASP world champions Tom Curren (USA) and Layne Beachley (AUS); top five World Tour competitors Fabio Gouveia (BRA), Victor Ribas (BRA) and Heather Clark (RSA); Pipeline Master Rob Page (HAW); and World Tour competitors Davey Gonzalez (HAW), Andrea Lopes (BRA), Toby Martin (AUS), Ross Williams (HAW), Juan Ashton (PUR) and Chris Knutsen (RSA).

Most of the names on that list will be making the trip this July to compete in one of the age-specific divisions (Men’s Masters, over 35 years; Men’s Grand Masters, over 40; Men’s Kahunas, over 45; Men’s Grand Kahunas, over 50; Women’s Masters, over 35) in Nicaragua, representing their respective country in with hopes of winning an individual medal and, more importantly, the Team Gold Medal and the perpetual Eduardo Arena ISA Trophy.

Competing on behalf of their respective countries also gives the traveling athletes the opportunity to surf a world-class wave for a week with only three others in the lineup.

“Based on the performances we’ve seen over the years, it’s true what they say: age is just a number,” Aguerre said. “Most of these men and women, if you put them in a professional contest today, they’d probably win a few heats, if not more.”

Past results show that South Africa has been one of the powerhouses at the Masters level, highlighted by the multiple Gold Medals won by Knutsen (four) and Clark (two), leading to two Team Gold Medals.

However, the most decorated Masters surfer comes from a country that had never previously had a surfing world champion: Juan Ashton of Puerto Rico. Ashton has won a Gold Medal each of the four years that he’s competed in the ISA World Masters, two in the Men’s Masters (Over 35) division and two in Men’s Grand Masters (Over 40).

Last year in El Salvador, the USA fielded a team in the ISA World Masters Surfing Championship for the first time. Led by three-time ASP World Champion Tom Curren – a once-in-a-generation-type surfer – the Americans let it be known that Southern Hemisphere countries’ domination was not going to be an easy job. (Australia won in 2010).

Men’s Masters
2007 – Rincon, Puerto Rico: Juan Ashton (PUR)
2008 – Punta Rocas, Peru: Juan Ashton (PUR)
2010 – Santa Catalina, Panama: Andrew Banks (RSA)
2011 – Punta Roca, El Salvador: Mark Richardson (AUS)

Men’s Grand Masters
2007 – Rincon, Puerto Rico: Magoo de la Rosa (PER)
2008 – Punta Rocas, Peru: Rob Page (AUS)
2010 – Santa Catalina, Panama: Juan Ashton (PUR)
2011 – Punta Roca, El Salvador: Juan Ashton (PUR)

Men’s Kahunas
2007 – Rincon, Puerto Rico: Chris Knutsen (RSA)
2008 – Punta Rocas, Peru: Marc Wright (RSA)
2010 – Santa Catalina, Panama: Rod Baldwin (AUS)
2011 – Punta Roca, El Salvador: Tom Curren (USA)

Mens Grand Kahunas
2008 – Punta Rocas, Peru: Chris Knutsen (RSA)
2010 – Santa Catalina, Panama: Chris Knutsen (RSA)
2011 – Punta Roca, El Salvador: Craig Schieber (CRC)

Womens Masters
2008 – Punta Rocas, Peru: Heather Clark (RSA)
2010 – Santa Catalina, Panama: Heather Clark (RSA)
2011 – Punta Roca, El Salvador: Layne Beachley (AUS)

Team Title
2007 – Rincon, Puerto Rico: Team South Africa
2008 – Punta Rocas, Peru: Team South Africa
2010 – Santa Catalina, Panama: Team Australia
2011 – Punta Roca, El Salvador: Team USA

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