Although 2020 has been a year marred by the absence of competitive surfing and related travel, life has still been all “go, go, go” for Carlos Muñoz. Recently reconnecting with the subject of a previous Howler Surf Profile, we found him dividing his time between being a devoted father and a professional surfer making the best of an unplanned break from competitions.


Muñoz, 26, grew up winning contests. From the age of 10, this Esterillos Oeste surfer was racking up national surf titles. In doing so, he perfected airs — so much so that observers always saw him flying high and rarely missing a landing. Indeed, his global fame was kickstarted with a Superman maneuver at 2014’s Hurley Pro in Trestles, California, where Carlos was the wild card after winning a landslide online vote by fans. (As the first Tico in a championship tour, he even beat the then-No. 1 world surfer, Gabriel Medina, in their first matchup.)


Cross-category wins


Breaking records is what Muñoz does best. At age 16, he made national history with Open and Boys division year-end championships in the Circuito Nacional de Surf here. During his many runs in the nationwide tournament, he would score multiple category wins, once even making the finals podium for three — boys, junior and open. 


On the international stage, Muñoz (known as Cali) has kept working his air and rail game progressively, keeping in the Top 50 of the World Surf League Qualifying Series rankings since 2013. 


When Cali was first featured in Howler’s August 2018 issue, he was gearing up for the all-important Vans U.S. Open in Huntington Beach, California. In that event the previous season, he had astounded everyone by finishing fourth. 


“I’ve been training a lot, working out, working on my strategy, on my surfing, on my surfboards,” he told us at the time of that magazine’s publication. “This is a great year also because I’m a father too. I’ve been growing up a lot. I’ve been progressing a lot in terms of power surfing, putting more weight on the board and surfing more rail to rail, and trying to do a lot of combos. I’m getting better in my airs and also my barrel skills. I feel my surfing is very mature compared to other years.


Halfway into the 2018 season Muñoz had already nailed fifth place at Chili’s Maui and Sons Arica Pro Tour and 13th place in Hawaii’s Volcom Pipe Pro. There, the press called him “spectacular,” a moniker earned, in part, by his perfect 10.00 threading a backdoor wave in an early heat.


In addition, Cali had picked up two gold medals at the Olympics-sanctioned 2018 Central American Sports Games in Nicaragua — one for winning the open and the other as a team member of the first-place Costa Rican national surf team. His prospects looked good for a place on that team to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where surfing would make its debut.


Forward focus


Fast-forward two years, when very few people’s lives have played out as expected. Carlos is no exception, facing the same setbacks that hit surfers and other athletes especially hard, with sport event cancellations the world over.


Looking ahead to a future everyone hopes will be brighter, Muñoz has devoted his time and energy to the physical training aspect of surf. He has also been learning about the importance of incorporating a healthy diet in his routine, with the help of a nutritionist. Most recently, his major focus has been on training for the World competition, which will be a pass to the Olympics. This finds him eagerly waiting for the World Surf League to release its 2021 calendar.


The past year has also brought one happy event for Carlos and his family, blessed in welcoming a new baby into the world. 

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