Under a growing swell and with water temps resembling that of a jacuzzi, the international contingency of some of the world's best surfers congregated at Costa Rica's Playa Hermosa for the sixth day of the Billabong ISA World Games fueled by Monster Energy today.
Team USA, who has been trying since 1996 to regain the gold medal in the Overall Team Standings, made a huge step today by keeping all of their remaining surfers alive.
The partial Overall Team Standings show a strong USA lead. The current top five nations are:
1 – USA – 19080 points
2 – Hawaii – 16960 points
3 – Australia – 16720 points
4 – South Africa -15040 points
5 – France -14040 points
Note: The above points show the potential maximum that each team can achieve. The final scores will be always lower
The morning rounds of competition bore witness to a low tide and a growing swell that produced some very contestable conditions as Hawaii's Joel Centeio opened the day with a blistering performance, earning himself a win in his Open Men Round 4 heat against New Zealander Jay Quinn, Aussie Dayyan Neve and Brazil's Gabriel Medina. Centeio, a seasoned competitor from the island of Oahu, has edged Team Hawaii closer to a solid standing. Going into day six, both Australia and the USA were tied for first while Hawaii held fast in third.
As the remainder of the Open Men's round progressed, American Ben Bourgeois put up the highest combined score of 15 points as the North Carolina native tore apart the peak at Playa Hermosa with surgical precision. Other standout performances in the Open Men's morning rounds went to Florida native Cory Lopez and Costa Rican Jason Torres.
At the completion of Round 4 of the Open Men division, the longboarders took to the lineup. Although the right and left-hand peaks at Playa Hermosa can be daunting for the 9-foot planks, the talent of the surfers in the water was testament to how diverse and sed the current crop of international longboarders has become by mixing in an array of high-speed nose walks and speed floaters on the inside dump.
Among those who stood out in their early morning heats was Great Britains Eliot Dudley who looked serenely confident in his opening surf today. At 24 years old, Dudley hails from Wales and although he'll be the first to tell you that his home break may not be world class, he's still managed to hone his craft and hold his best against the rest of the world.
"We don't get a lot of surf where I'm from in the UK, but when we get some waves, it gets pretty good. Sort of like the East Coast of the US," said Dudley, "but I also get to travel a lot so that's good. I've actually been to Costa Rica six times."
Also representing the longboarding contingency for Great Britain today was surfer Ben Skinner, who may have one of the most interesting stories in the comp. His father, owner of Skinner Ale, a popular British beer, helped fund the British team to make it to the Games.
In his heat today, Skinner advanced with some of the fastest cross-stepping in the business, coupled with some high speed, high-risk floaters across the inside dump section. Skinner will take on good pal and fellow Great Britains longboarder Eliot Dudley in the next round of competition.
In what proved to be a shocker for Bonga Perkins, the 2008 World Longboard Champion from Hawaii, fell victim to some sharp competition in his Round 3 heat, forcing him into the repercharge rounds where he competed against fellow Hawaiian Kekoa Uemura, Australian Dane Piolo, and Francisco Hernandez from Venezuela and won.
As the afternoon heat bore down on the competition, an armada of ominous, dark clouds plowed toward the contest site at Playa Hermosa. The ensuing wind and rain forced a two and a half hour hold to the contest as the event lost all power. Fortunately, the contest was able start again and the following heats bore witness to some of the best surfing of the event.
Jeremy Flores ped the score of the day, a 9.17, when he dismantled a right-hander in the closing minutes of his heat to take the win just as the remaining Open Mens heats took to the lineup.
"If you're not lucky and you don't get the good ones out there, then that makes it tough," said Flores. "I can't wait for the swell to come up and we can get some better surf for the rest of the contest."
Competition resumes this morning at 7:30am, local time (GMT: -06:00), the following rounds will be held:
-Open Men Repercharge: 7, 8 and 9
-Open Men Main Event: 5
-Open Women Repercharge: 5, 6 and 7
-Open Women Main Event: 5
-Longboard Repercharge: 5, 6 and 7
-Longboard Main Event: 4