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Panama’s President Martinelli awarding the World Team Trophy to the 2011 Gold Medal Team Champions, Australia, who will be back to defend their title. Photo: ISA/Billy Watts

From May 4-12, Panama will become the gathering place of the world’s best surfers, who will compete in the 2013 Reef ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) in the perfect reef break in Santa Catalina.

The 2013 Reef ISA WSG begins in less than two weeks. Over 25 countries from all corners of the planet and 150 men and women surfers will soon arrive to the beautiful and tropical country of Panama, it’s great waves, warm weather and welcoming people.

In just a few days, the world-class reef break in Santa Catalina, Panama will receive the world’s best surfers from over 25 National Teams to compete in the 2013 Reef ISA World Surfing Games. Photo: Philippe Demarsan

These are the ten things you need to know about the 2013 Reef ISA WSG:

1. The Event

The 2013 Reef ISA World Surfing Games will gather 25 National Delegations from every corner of the world, who will gather to compete for their National Team in an “Olympic-Style” event. The surfers compete for medals and the honor of representing their respective countries.

2. The Competition

The 2013 Reef ISA World Surfing Games is a team competition with individual Men’s and Women’s divisions. Each National Team includes 4 Open Men’s and 2 Open Women’s competitors.

Up until the last ISA World Surfing Games in Playa Venao, Panama in 2011, the WSG included a Longboard division, but starting this year, this division will have its own ISA World Championship, in Huanchaco, Peru in September.

Australia made it back to the top of the podium after a three year absence. The team celebrates while holding the Fernando Aguerre World Team Trophy as Panama’s President, Ricardo Martinelli (far left) looks on. Photo: ISA/Watts

3. The Champions

2011 Team Medalists

Gold: Australia

Silver: Brazil

Bronze: France

Copper: Argentina

Individual Places

Open Men’s Division

Gold: Santiago Muniz (ARG)

Silver: Mick Campbell (AUS)

Bronze: Thomas Woods (AUS)

Copper: Ian Gouveia (BRA)

Open Women’s division

Gold: Cannelle Bulard (FRA)

Silver: Sofia Mulanovich (PER)

Bronze: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS)

Copper: Dimity Stoyle (AUS)

4. The Venue

Panama is the southernmost country of Central America, bordered to the north by the Caribbean Sea, to the south by the Pacific Ocean, to the east by Colombia and to the west by Costa Rica. Its early status as a transit country with its famous Panama Canal, has allowed Panama to become a meeting point of cultures from around the globe.

Santa Catalina is a quiet surf town located in the Province of Veraguas and is home to several hundred people who lead simple lives, many as fishermen.

Besides surfing, Santa Catalina is also known for its sport fishing, diving and snorkeling. It’s also the departure point for Coiba Island, a National Park that covers over 430,000 acres, making it one of the largest marine parks in the world.

5. The Wave

The wave is world-class. It breaks along a shallow reef that creates a perfect right-hand powerful and hollow wave. Santa Catalina handles solid swells in the 8-12 feet range.

The event was scheduled to take place during the active Southern Hemisphere swell season that produces great waves for the region. Santa Catalina will provide a long right with an incredible barrel section. The main wave is located approximately 300 meters from shore, so you can get there paddling or by boat. It is a break that picks up sizeable waves in any type of swell coming mainly from the south or southwest.

6. The Prize

The world’s best surfers will gather to compete for the Individual and Team Gold Medals, the International Olympic Committee President’s Trophy and the Fernando Aguerre World Team Trophy, named for and donated by the ISA President, who was first elected in 1994 and has been elected 7 times since.

Additionally, in celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean, the World Team Champion will be awarded the “Copa V Centenario Del Descubrimiento Del Oceano Pacifico,” or 5th Century Cup of the Discovery of the Pacific Ocean. This commemorative trophy marks the discovery of the Pacific Ocean during the colonial era by the Conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa.

7. The History

The ISA World Surfing Games began in 1964 under the name ISF World Championships, and were run by the International Surfing Federation, the first surfing international organization in history. In 1976, the ISF became the ISA. From their beginning and until today, the contestants in the World Championship traveled to compete as a team and to represent their nation.

8. The Schedule

The 2013 Reef ISA WSG will officially open on May 4 with the traditional ISA Opening Ceremony, which will include the Parade of the Nations and Sands of the World Ceremony.

The Parade of the Nations is a colorful and energy-filled event, complete with teams chanting, waving flags and the cheering of the locals who come out to watch the spectacle.

The Sands of the World Ceremony symbolizes the true fraternal spirit that bonds together all members of the global surfing tribe. The union of the countries of the world in this Ceremony is symbolized through the mixing of the sands from the shores of all participating National Delegations, showcasing the ISA desire for a better and peaceful world.

Important Dates

May 4: Opening Ceremony, Parade of Nations, Sands of the World Ceremony and Official Press Conference.

May 5: Competition Begins

May 12: Final day of competition, Awards Presentation and Closing Ceremony

9. The Mission

The ISA’s mission is to develop the sport of surfing in Panama and around the world.  This is accomplished through annual World Championships, membership development, educational programs, scholarship distribution and working towards Olympic Surfing.

The ISA is fulfilling its mission as it has previously held three very successful World Championships in Panama including the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in Playa Venao in 2012, the ISA World Surfing Games in Playa Venao in 2011, and the ISA World Masters Surfing Championship in Santa Catalina in 2010.

10. The Support

The 2013 Reef ISA WSG is the fourth event in a row hosted by Panama with the full support of the country’s President, Ricardo Martinelli and the Ministry of Tourism, led by Salomon Shamah. The Panamanian Ministry of Tourism is once again supporting an ISA event in the country for a 4th year in a row. Reef, a leading surfing brand, is also supporting this year’s event and the ISA’s cause for a better surfing future. The Province of Veraguas has opened its arms welcoming all the surfers.

Follow all of the action live on the official event website www.ISAWSG.com

About the International Surfing Association:

The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Para 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; World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012; and World Para Surfing Champions in 2015.

ISA membership includes the surfing National Federations of 108 countries on five continents. The ISA is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (ARG). The Executive Committee includes four Vice-Presidents Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL), Athletes’ Commission Chair Justine Dupont (FRA), Regular Members Atsushi Sakai (JPN) and Jean Luc Arassus (FRA) and ISA Executive Director Robert Fasulo as Ex-officio Member.

Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California (USA).