7 April 2008
Team South Africa continued its reign as the undisputed champions of world masters surfing by trumping the world’s best 35-years-and-older surfers to win the overall team crown at the 2008 ISA World Surfing Championships in perfect point break waves at Punta Rocas in Peru at the weekend.
Led by individual gold medalists Heather Clark (Masters Women), Marc Wright (Kahunas) and Chris Knutsen (Grand Kahunas), South Africa blew away the competition to take their second consecutive team world championship.
They topped the standings with 10 500 points, 1 100 ahead of Australia in second, with Brazil, on 9 041, finishing in third, and hosts Peru rounding out the top four with 8 766 points.
Saturday’s final day of competition offered solid one-to-1.5-metre waves for the “Masters Olympics of Surfing”.
Former World Championship Tour surfer Heather Clark got the ball rolling for the South African team by blasting her way to victory over Peru’s Rocio Larranaga, Sandra English of Australia and Brigitte Mayer of Brazil in the final of the Masters Women’s (over-35) division.
South Africa’s most decorated female surfer was in a league of her own; netting 15.83 points in the final to end the event with the four highest heat tallies and the five highest single ride scores in the women’s event.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” Clark said. “In 2003 I was in contention for the title on the World Tour, so it’s always been my dream to win a world title. I’m over the moon.”
Chris Knutsen was the next winner for South Africa, mixing his trademark rail carves with a radical forehand approach to defeat Peru’s Paco Del Castillo, Australia’s Frank Hayter and Puerto Rico’s Rene Gonzalez in the Grand Kahunas (over-50) division.
Knutsen was crowned Kahunas (over-45) world champion in Puerto Rico last year and followed that up with the gold medal in the Grand Kahunas this year.
Durban’s Marc Wright completed the South Africa trifecta by snatching a last minute victory over fellow countrymen Nick Pike to nab gold in the Kahunas (over-45) division. Sitting in second place with a minute remaining in the 30-minute final, Wright snared a wave set and produced a series of classy frontside manoeuvres to post a heat-winning 8.33.
Pike took the silver with Punta Rocas’ local Jorge Posso getting bronze and Australia’s Rod Baldwin the copper.
1988 Pipeline Masters champion Rob Page of Australia rekindled his competitive surfing career by reaching the finals of both the Grand Masters and Masters divisions.
In the Grand Masters, the Wollongong charger out-pointed Peru’s Magoo De La Rosa, Brazil’s Jo Jo Olivenca and South Africa’s Andre Malherbe to capture gold.
Puerto Rico’s Juan Ashton was the only Latin America title winner, netting his second successive Masters’ title. He scored a sensational 17.50 out of 20 – the highest score of the day – to defeat Ricardo Toledo of and the Australian pair of Rob Page and Jay Sharpe in the only final that did not feature a South African competitor.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre awarded the surfers their medals in the event’s closing ceremony.
He was ecstatic about the success of this international event stating. “I would like to thank the Peruvian people and the Peruvian Surfing Federation for welcoming us with open arms,” he said.
“The 160 visitors will be leaving the country with a Peruvian warmth tattooed in our hearts; we are new ambassadors for Peru. The proverbial fountain of youth is closer than we might think: It’s the waves of the world…We don’t stop surfing because we get old, we get old because we stop surfing…So don’t stop!”
The location of the 2009 ISA World Masters Surfing Championships has not yet been chosen but locations in South Africa and Brazil are in the running.
Source: Surfing South Africa