10 Things to Know about the 2021 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games

May 26th, 2021

More than 250 athletes from 51 countries are set to unite in El Salvador to compete for national pride, Gold Medals, and Tokyo 2020 qualification at the Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games (WSG).

From May 29 – June 6 the world’s best National Surfing Teams will be chasing their dreams of becoming part of Surfing’s first wave of Olympians.

Here are 10 thing to know about the upcoming competition:

  1. Olympic dreams

The 2021 WSG is the final event in Surfing’s Qualification pathway for Tokyo 2020. The event will fulfill 12 Olympic dreams by qualifying the final 7 women and 5 men to arrive at the grand total of 20 qualified men and women. The qualification slots will be awarded to the highest ranking, eligible athletes in each division.

28 of the 40 Olympic surfers have already provisionally qualified through the 2019 World Surf League Championship Tour (WSL CT), the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games, and the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.

At the WSG Closing Ceremony, the ISA will recognize and honor all the Olympic qualified surfers present at the event.

Learn more about the qualification system and see who has provisionally qualified here.

  1. Where to watch

The event will stream live daily on the official event website isasurf.org and the ISA’s Facebook page.

The event website will contain daily updated photos, videos, news, and schedules – your home for all information related to the event.

For viewers in Brazil, the stream will exclusively be available on the Olympic Channel of Brazil.

Viewers in Latin America will also be able to see daily highlights and live coverage on ESPN.

Additionally, the event will stream daily on Olympics.org.

  1. The history

Originally named the International Surfing Federation World Championships, the World Surfing Games crowned the first Surfing World Champions in Manly Beach, Australia in 1964. The WSG has been crowning champions ever since, with competitions being held on all five continents of the globe.

Central America last hosted the WSG in 2016 in Costa Rica, a historic edition that welcomed the confirmation of Surfing’s inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. However, 2021 will mark the first time that the event has taken place in El Salvador.

  1. Gender equality

In an effort to promote gender equality in surfing and promote women participation, the ISA adjusted its competition format in 2017 to offer equal competition slots for men and women across its World Championship Series.

Since the 2018 edition, the WSG has broken the record for female participation each year, attesting to the growth of women’s surfing on all continents of the globe.

In 2021, a record 121 women (47% of competitors) will compete and represent their nations.

USA’s Carissa Moore will represent her nation at the World Surfing Games on her road to Tokyo 2020. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed
  1. Health and Safety

With the health and safety of the athletes as the utmost priority for the realization of the event, the ISA and government of El Salvador have created and implemented a robust health and safety plan. The plan includes, but is not limited to, testing protocol, limiting the number of people present on the event site, vaccination of event staff, and contactless team registration.

View full health and safety plan here.

  1. The waves

The 2021 WSG will take place across two world-class waves in El Salvador: La Bocana and El Sunzal.

La Bocana is a cobble-stone bottom river mouth that features multiple peaks. The waves break left and right, providing powerful, steep sections for high performance surfing.

El Sunzal is a long, right hand point break due west of La Bocana that runs for hundreds of yards along the coast.

The long lines of El Sunzal bend around the point, while the peaks of La Bocana can be seen on the left down the coast. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed
  1. Defending Champs

Brazil’s Italo Ferreira and Peru’s Sofia Mulanovich, the defending Men’s and Women’s Gold Medalists, respectively, will both return to defend their Titles in 2021.

Ferreira, who already provisionally qualified for Tokyo 2020 via the 2019 WSL CT, will look for his second ISA Gold Medal in as many attempts. Mulanovich will look to defend her title and earn one of the 7 slots for women available for Tokyo 2020.

Brazil won the overall Team Gold Medal in 2019 and will attempt to repeat with a squad that features stars such as Ferreira, Gabriel Medina, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Silvana Lima, Filipe Toledo, and Julia Santos.

Team Brazil celebrates the 2019 Gold Medal in Miyazaki, Japan. Photo: ISA / Pablo Jimenez
  1. The schedule

The event will unfold as follows:

May 29:

Opening Ceremony @ 10am
Possible start to competition depending on conditions

May 30 – June 6:


June 6

Finals and Closing Ceremony

  1. Be social

The ISA will be posting live updates, photos and videos from the competition on social media. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Don’t forget to use the official hashtags #ISAworlds, #SurfCity, and #ElSalvador.  

Facebook: International Surfing Association
Instagram: @ISAsurfing
Twitter: @ISAsurfing
YouTube: @ISAsurfing
Tiktok: @isasurfing

  1. The support and #SurfCity

The ISA would like to warmly thank the government of El Salvador, and especially the President, Nayib Bukele, who has been the driving source of support behind the World Surfing Games. The ISA is thrilled that President Bukele and his government have made surfing a strategic priority, with “Surf City” as part of a five-year plan to promote tourism on El Salvador’s beautiful beaches.

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