They say you can’t go home again, but here I am, back at my original publication base writing the Costa Rica Surf Report. Nearly 20 years ago, I wrote my first Surf Report for The Howler, following the nascent Federacion de Surf de Costa Rica (FSC) and its newly inaugurated Circuito Nacional de Surf. The countrywide surf tournament has since grown exponentially, welcoming over 200 competitors at each of its contests. Today, with such impressive rankings, it feeds the various national surf teams who travel to international world surf events. 

For the first time in its history, to help prevent the deadly spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Circuito Nacional had to postpone a scheduled contest date. Copa VSSLA, the third date of the Scotiabank Circuito Nacional de Surf presented by Kolbi, was to have taken place in Guiones on March 21 and 22.

WSL canceled all its March tournaments as a consequence
of the global pandemic.

After the announcement of Executive Decree No. 42221-S issued by the Casa Presidencial and the Ministry of Health, FSC took into consideration the health and well-being of surfing athletes as well as spectator fans. The presidential decree actually requested the suspension of ALL sporting events, and other large-scale activities in one of Costa Rica’s early nationwide measures to contain the disease.  

Randall Chaves, FSC President, announced, “Following orders from the Ministry of Health, we are forced to suspend the date in Guiones and move it to July. We applaud the efforts made by our authorities and join the call to remain calm and comply with basic hygiene protocols to prevent the transmission of disease.”

The pending calendar for the Scotiabank CNS surf tournament is listed below. Keep in mind it may change again given the fluid nature of COVID-19 in Costa Rica:

    • Santa Teresa – April 18 and 19
    • Avellanas – May 23 and 24
    • Playa Hermosa de Jaco – June 20 and 21
    • Guiones – July 18 and 19
    • CNS Scotiabank Grand Final presented by Kolbi in Jacó – August dates to be scheduled

Top surfers

Before activity lockdowns began occurring internationally, Costa Rica’s top surfers were still participating in the World Surf League (WSL) professional contests around the globe.

Brisa Hennessy is the first Costa Rican to hold a No. 1 World Qualifying Series ranking. Photo: Matt Dunbar

In March, Brisa Hennessy — the only Costa Rican already pre-qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which are also  pending — classified for her second consecutive semifinal on the World Qualifying Series (WQS). Her third-place finish occurred at the Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro, a QS3000 point contest at Avoca Beach, Australia. With a previous first-place win in China, Hennessy has maintained a No. 1 ranking on the QS chart. Her participation on the Championship Tour (CT), has yet to start as the early dates so far have been cancelled or postponed.

Never before has any Costa Rican held the first-place spot on the QS. However, note that Leilani McGonagle took 13th place in this contest and now occupies No. 15 in the Women’s QS ranking.

Hennessy continued her streak with another third-place finish, this time at the Sydney Surf Pro at Manly Beach, Australia. This was a high-point QS10,000, where she faced her Rip Curl teammate, Tyler Wright, a two-time Australian world champion who returned to competition after recovering from injuries that kept her out the entire 2019 season. 

“It has been the best start of the year I have ever had at the WQS,” said Hennessy. “For that I feel very proud and grateful for all the people who support me in this dream. With my coach, Glenn Hall (Ireland), we have worked hard. I owe a lot to him.” 

With this win in Sydney, Hennessy added 6,500 more points to this season’s ranking accumulation, making it unattainable for anyone else to usurp her No. 1 spot. All the rest of the 18 QS events are 1,000 and 1,500 points, and Hennessy is sure to rack up some more good scoring placements furthering her lead.

But, in fact, WSL canceled all its March tournaments as a consequence of the global pandemic.  

Early March promising

Tomas King’s strong performance earned him fifth place in the Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro at Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photo: John Ferguson

Before that, Tomas King had a beautiful opening day at Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro, a men’s QS1500 in Cocoa Beach, Florida, March 12 to 15. After grinding on the international circuit for a few years, he’s demonstrated a lot of promise this year, beginning with his Round 2 debut here. 

“I haven’t done any QS events this year and just staying closer to home doing some Pro Am events,” said King. “I’m stoked though. The waves are really fun and I wasn’t expecting much here so that was great. This year I’m just feeling happy and have a different mindset, more relaxed, and I just want to surf my best.”

Later, this mindset paid off in a battle that unfolded in Round 4, Heat 4 to determine the final two spots going into the last day: King and Keanu Kamiyama (Japan) ended up in the quarterfinals, besting Robbie McCormick (US) and Alan Cleland (Mexico). King ended his run there.

“That was a good one and happy I got a couple good waves against those guys because I’m pretty heavy compared to them,” King said. “But I want it. I’m just trying to give a little extra on every single wave. With all the events called off this is it for a while so it makes me want it that much more. Thinking differently this year and just enjoying the moment has helped and now I’m bringing in some extra fire to back it up.”

Jair Perez finished ninth in the Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro competition. Photo: John Ferguson

Also looking to make his mark was Jair Perez, who had an early heat win. The WSL said Perez “brought his radiating positivity to a place [where] he finds the comforts of home. The competitive veteran has his eyes set towards bigger ambitions on the horizon but continues to enjoy the moment.”

King finished a respectful fifth place, while Perez concluded at ninth.  While neither of these men have cracked the top 100 of the QS ranking yet, it may be awhile before they can make more moves, as the Men’s QS dates are postponed for the time being due to COVID-19.