Surf Report December 2016

Surf Report December 2016

In 2006, the Central American Surfing Championships were started here in Esterillos, and the Federacion de Surf de Costa Rica invited other Latin surf nations to participate.

109 surfers traveled from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama to earn $14,000 in prize money, as well as individual surf notoriety and country team glory. As a team, with three Ticos winning 1st place, Costa Rica won the overall competition.

Last month, for the 11th time in as many years, Costa Rica won, once again beating Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama. These Central American Surfing Games were watched by approximately 2,000 people over three days, in waves in front of Best Western Jaco.

The Costa Rica team competed in seven categories as follows: Anthony Fillingim (Santa Teresa), Durby Castillo (Pavones), Gilbert Brown López (Puerto Viejo), Maykol Torres (Esterillos Oeste)/OPEN; Emily Gussoni (Jaco), Paula Rodriguez (Jaco)/WOMEN’S; Malakai Martinez (Tamarindo), Dennis Picado (Jaco), Aldo Chirinos (Playa Negra), Leiner Morales (Santa Teresa)/JUNIOR; Emily Gussoni, Zulay Martinez (Tamarindo)/JUNIOR GIRLS; Oscar Urbina (Puerto Viejo), Gabriel Córdoba (Puerto Viejo), Kenneth Perala (Jaco), André Chacón (Jaco)/BOYS; Paulina Summers (Limón), Lía Díaz (Tamarindo)/GIRLS; and Adolfo Gómez (Sámara), Ale Gómez (Sámara)/LONGBOARD. Groms also surfed in exhibition heats.

After the finals, Costa Ricans won 1st place and gold medals four times. Torres won Open, Rodriguez Women’s, Picado Junior and Urbina Boys, and the country won the tag team event as well.


“I am very happy to be champion, especially since I had many problems with injuries and to come back and win is very emotional for me,” said Torres after his win. “We were all united, a big family, and that gave us the championship.”

Gilbert Brown, the 4-time Costa Rica surf champion, coached the national team, drawing on his own experience competing here in this country and as a former member of Tico teams that went out on the international stage.

“I am proud of the heart that each and every one of our team put out in the water and in each heat,” said Brown. “There was not a moment that Costa Rica lowered their guard.”

The Central American Surfing Championship 2016 is, for Costa Rica, one step closer to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic surfing event. Next year in December, the sport will be included in the Managua Central American Games. Costa Rica plans to send a team to that contest as well.

2016 Central America Surfing Championships
Playa Jaco
November 11-13, 2016

1. Costa Rica 15,503 points
2. Guatemala 10,770
3. Panamá 9,472
4. El Salvador 6,733
5. Nicaragua 4,680

Individual Results:
1. Maykol Torres (CRI)
2. Anthony Fillingim (CRI)
3. Jair Pérez (CRI)
4. Jonny Alfonso (PAN)

1. Paula Rodriguez (CRI)
2. Emily Gussoni (CRI)
3. Samanta Alonso (PAN)
4. Candelaria Resano (NIC)

1. Dennis Picado (CRI)
2. Agustin Cedeño (PAN)
3. Aldo Chirinos (CRI)
4. Malakai Martinez (CRI)

Junior Girls
1. Valentina Resano (NIC)
2. Emily Gussoni (CRI)
3. Zulay Martínez (CRI)
4. Candelaria Resano (NIC)

1. Oscar Urbina (CRI)
2. André Chacón (CRI)
3. Lester Hernández (GUA)
4. José López (SAL)

1. Candelaria Resano (NIC)
2. Paulina Summers (CRI)
3. Valentina Resano (NIC)
4. Lia Díaz (CRI)

Groms (Exhibition category)
1. Darshan Antequera (CRI)
2. Kai Gail (PAN)
3. Tep Gail (PAN)
4. Jose Martínez (SAL)

Tag Team
1. Costa Rica
2. Panamá
3. Guatemala
4. El Salvador
Leilani McGonagle was missing from the Tico team because she was busy winning the Soup Bowl Pro Junior in Barbados. Not only was this her first ever World Surf League win, but it garnered the young lady from Pavones enough ranking points to become the North American Junior Women’s Regional title. This is the first time a Costa Rican has ever earned a WSL title.

To do this, she faced a heat from talented surfers Maddie Peterson, Samantha Sibley and Bethany Zelasko. Midway through the finals, Peterson bumped up to the lead, but Leilani reclaimed 1st place in the last 3 minutes.

“In my last heat I had trouble staying patient waiting for a good wave because you never know which wave is going to bowl up on the inside,” McGonagle continued. “I felt that if I just waited for a good wave it would come and when it did I just wanted to give two big hits for a score. I can’t believe it. I can’t even process everything fully just yet. I’m so stoked right now and know it will all sink in eventually, but I’m just going to enjoy all of this moment.”

“I’m just stoked and beyond happy with that win when I needed it the most,” McGonagle said. “Maddie was surfing so well and kept fighting back — I was so stoked to get that last wave and get the score. All these girls were ripping and now I’m just so excited to represent my country at Worlds.”

The World Junior Championships will take place January 4 – 13, 2017 at Kiama, New South Wales, Australia.

This has been the best year for Malakai Martinez.

Last month, he won the biggest tournament he has ever participated in at his young age of 15. Having won the Rip Curl Grom Search in Florida earlier this year, he was able to participate in the national Rip Curl Grom Search in Seaside Reef, California and he won the 14 and Under category.

“Previously I won the Grom Search in Florida, and Best Maneuver in the Quiksilver Young Guns in Brazil 2015 and California 2016, but this was so cool to win as I am now the 14 and Under Grom national champ of North America and that shows I am at the same level as the best of the best all over the world, which gives me motivation to get into the big surf contests all over the world,” Martinez said.

Martinez has been riding a surfboard since “before he could walk,” said mom Shannon Vacca. His first contest at 4 years old in the Mini-Grommets category of the Circuito Nacional de Surf resulted in winning 2nd place!!

Malakai reported that Seaside Reef had great waves, and “tough competitors,” but he just “went out there and surfed as hard and as smart as I could and in the final I knew I had to do something big and better than the other guys in the last 5 minutes as we were all close in points. So when I had an opportunity to do a big air, I took it and got a 9+ and then not only did I win the final, but got the win for Best Sick Maneuver of the whole contest!”

He was really grateful to the contest organizers and the other competitors, as well as the judges and the way he was treated.

“All the surfers brought it,” he said, “and surfed really well.”

That’s about it. I’d love to hear from you, the real surfers, with comments or questions, at

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