Team Spain Narrowly Defeats Hometown Favorites Japan to Take Gold in ISA Aloha Cup at 2018 UR ISA World Surfing Games

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Costa Rica earn Bronze and USA Copper

Women and Team Champion to be crowned on Saturday

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A dramatic, last-minute sprint to the starting box earned Team Spain a Gold Medal in the ISA Aloha Cup (a tag team format competition), narrowly defeating host Japan on day 5 of competition at the 2018 UR ISA World Surfing Games.

Team Spain celebrates their first ISA Aloha Cup Gold Medal. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Team Spain celebrates their first ISA Aloha Cup Gold Medal, the first ISA Gold in history for Spain. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Gony Zubizarreta propelled Team Spain to the win with the highest score for his team in the Final of 6.27.

“It feels amazing to win Gold!” said Zubizarreta. “This is Spain’s first ISA Aloha Cup Gold, and this definitely was the most fun part of the event. Competing with all the team, running, and all the stress make it super exciting.

“We got off to a slow start, but then Leticia Canales picked up the slack and got three really good waves. We needed a wave in the last minute and we got in with a few seconds remaining. It was amazing.”

Despite a solid effort from their anchor Kanoa Igarashi, Team Japan finished just 0.26 points behind Spain for the Silver Medal.

Team Costa Rica finished with the Bronze and USA with the Copper.

The one-of-a-kind ISA Aloha Cup is a team relay event featuring the top eight teams from the previous edition of the ISA World Surfing Games. With an equal number of men and women, each team is comprised of four team members, and each athlete catches three waves in their leg of the relay. The three scores from each athlete are summed up to get the overall team score in the 45-minute heats.


Spain’s Leticia Canales scoring valuable points for Spain in the Aloha Cup Final. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed


First Semifinal featured France, Mexico, Japan, and Costa Rica, while the second Semifinal featured Portugal, Spain, Peru, and USA.

In the small, beach break conditions, Japan and Costa Rica’s expertise shined in Semifinal 1 as they advanced onto the Final.

In Semifinal 2 Team USA continued their strong surfing in the event, earning the highest score of any team in the Semifinals with 53.82 points between their four surfers. Spain followed USA, advancing to the Final.

Costa Rica jumped out to an early lead in the Final with Anthony Fillingim earning the heat high wave score of 7.5. The rest of the field caught up to Costa Rica through the heat with well-balance performances from their men and women competitors.

In the dying seconds of the heat, with all teams having returned back to the starting box except Spain, Vicente Romero’s modest score of 1.7 was enough to push Spain into the lead. However, his work was not done, as he had to sprint back into the box to avoid a penalty that would remove them from the Gold Medal position. In the nick of time Romero reached the starting box to assure the Gold for Team Spain.

Joining Zubizarreta and Romero in the final for Team Spain’s Gold Medal performance were Nadia Erostarbe and Leticia Canales.

Spain’s Vicente Romero takes off in the anchor position to take Spain to the Gold. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Spain’s Vicente Romero takes off in the anchor position to take Spain to the Gold. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:

“The ISA Aloha Cup never fails to excite. Despite the smaller conditions, the world’s best National Surfing Teams showed how to use teamwork in an individual sport like Surfing.

“Congratulations to all the teams that earned medals in the Final, and especially to Spain for taking the Gold. This Aloha Cup was close to the very end, with a mere four points separating Gold from Copper.

“We are going to take a break on Friday’s competition and finish on Saturday with the Women’s Division. Individual and the Team Medals are on the line, as we have quite a show to look forward to.”

The schedule when competition resumes on Saturday is the following:

  • 9:00am – First call
  • 9:30am-10:10am: 2 heats Women Repechage Round 8
  • 10:10am-10:30am: 1 heat Women Main Event Round 6
  • 10:30am-10:50am: 1 heat Women Repechage Round 9
  • 10:50am-11:10am: Break
  • 11:10am-11:30am: 1 heat Women Repechage Round 10
  • 11:30am-11:50am: Break
  • 11:50am-12:15am: Women Grand Final

The schedule for the remainder event will be as follows*:

  • September 21 – Lay day
  • September 22* – Competition at Long Beach, Tahara
  • September 22 – Closing Ceremony at Long Beach following the close of competition

*Schedule subject to change due to conditions

The 2018 UR ISA World Surfing Games will be broadcast live on www.isasurf.org September 15-22.

ISA Aloha Cup Final Results
Gold – Spain
Silver – Japan
Bronze – Costa Rica
Copper – USA

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).