The ISA gets ready for the most important surfing competition in China’s history
Hainan Wanning Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival Presented by Quiksilver
January 7 to 14, 2012
Wanning, Hainan Island, China
The final two rosters for the ISA China Cup have been submitted, rounding out what should be a highly competitive event and exciting start to the New Year. While South Africa’s National Team is packed with big-name stars, Argentina will be fielding a roster of relative unknowns. If recent history has taught us anything, however, it’s that name recognition only carries a surfer so far.
Take, for instance, Santiago Muñiz of Argentina, who will be competing in China. Early this year, his name wasn’t commonly known outside Latin American surfing circles. Then came the ISA World Surfing Games in Panama, where Muñiz announced himself to the entire international surfing community, winning an individual gold medal in the Open Men, competing against surfers with a lot more competitive experience.
“That’s part of the beauty of these international gatherings and this sport: at ISA events we get to discover new talents from young surfing nations,” said ISA President Fernando Aguerre. “Every year there’s a few surprises. I can’t wait to see who’ll surprise us in China.”
The ISA China Cup is the first of two events comprising the Hainan Wanning Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival Presented by Quiksilver, which will begin January 7 and run through January 10. The hope is that the two-event Festival will inspire the growth of a surf culture in China, a country with 1.4 billion people and 9,000-plus miles of coastline. The Festival is the work of the ISA and Womei Media, a Beijing sports and media organization that is exclusively representing the ISA’s commercial interests in China.
The four-day ISA China Cup will feature the finest surfers from the top eight qualifying countries, based on the results of the 2011 ISA World Surfing Games. Each country will field a National Team of 4 men and 2 women vying for team and individual gold medals.
Accompanying Muniz to China will be a team of athletes who are mostly in the position he found himself in last year: talented but seeking exposure. Leandro Usuna has competed for years on the WQS and has represented his country in ISA championship events in the past, while Marcelo Rodriguez and Santiago Di Pace have both experienced some domestic surfing success. All three will be hoping to shock the surfing world the way Muniz did earlier this year.
Lucia Cosleto and Joela Jofre have both represented Argentina at ISA Surfing Championship events in years past and will be hoping to advance deep into the Open Women division in order to give their country a chance at reaching the podium.
“It’s a great joy to represent Argentina in an event of this magnitude in China,” Rodriguez said. “I was a reserve for the National Team during 2011 and I was looking forward to making it back to the main team. I finally made it back and this motivates me a lot, and even more considering it’s the ISA China Cup, where we’re going to face the best of the best.”
The South African team will be arriving in China with an altogether different team dynamic: a roster full of decorated, contest-savvy surfers, who will be focused on team gold.
The National Team will be led by captain Greg Emslie, who spent over 10 years competing on the ASP World Tour and has won multiple domestic surfing titles. Brandon Jackson and Royden Bryson have both competed on and had success on the WQS, and have experience in ISA Surfing Championship competition as well. In 2009, Jackson finished 5th at the ISA World Surfing Games, while Bryson last competed in 2000. The final roster spot went to Dale Staples, who has been a fixture at ASP junior events, and will be turning 21 upon his arrival in China.
The women appear equally as formidable, led by Nikita Robb, who finished 8th in the Open Women at the ISA World Surfing Games in 2011. Representing South Africa alongside Robb will be Sarah Baum, the top junior surfer in the country, who will be competing in the Open Women for the first time after strong results at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship. Baum finished 3rd in the event in 2010.
“As South Africans we always aim to finish at the top of the Team list in any ISA event,” said Robin de Kock, a team official. “We are respectful of our opposition but our team will give their all to make South Africa proud.”
In addition to Argentina and South Africa, the other invited National Teams slated to contend for the ISA China Cup are Australia, Brazil, France, Peru, USA and Venezuela.
The Hainan Wanning Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival Presented by Quiksilver begins on January 7 with the traditional ISA Opening Ceremony, which includes a Parade of the Nations and the Sands of the World Ceremony, to be held at the Le Meridian Hotel in the city of Wanning, Hainan Island, China.
Following the ISA China Cup, the Hainan Classic, an ASP Men’s 4-Star with a $ 95,000 USD prize-purse, will take place from January 11 to 14, and will feature some of the best surfers in the world.
Registration for the Hainan Classic is open now on www.aspaustralasia.com.
ISA China Cup Argentina National Team
Santiago Di Pace
ISA China Cup South Africa National Team
Robin de Kock
The events will be webcasted live on www.hainaninternationalsurfingfestival.com beginning January 7 and until the final day, January 14.