Five Paris 2024 Olympians Confirmed on Day 6 of the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games

June 5th, 2023

South Africans Jordy Smith and Sarah Baum, New Zealanders Saffi Vette and Billy Stairmand, and Japan’s Shino Matsuda qualify for Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Three Olympic Games slots remain, one each for Asian Men and European Men and Women athletes

Carlos Muñoz (CRC) takes inspiration from Irons Brothers, boosts giant straight air

Local Salvadoran Porfirio Miranda excels to make home nation proud

Surf City El Salvador – June 5, 2023

A rising, long-period 6-8 foot swell with double-overhead waves raised stakes throughout the day as Paris 2024 Olympic Games qualification hung in the balance for most of the surfers left in the draw of the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games (WSG). Women’s Main Round 4 was completed at La Bocana, along with Men’s Repechage Rounds 5-7, while Women’s Repechage Rounds 4-7 were also wrapped at El Sunzal.

Five of the eight Olympic slots on offer in the 2023 WSG were claimed today, with multiple scenarios playing out across the two podiums, often between members of the same team looking for the single continental qualification slot available.

The three remaining slots will go to a man from Asia, and both a man and woman from Europe. Three surfers remain in contention for Asia, 2022 ISA WSG Gold Medalist and Olympic Silver Medalist Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), 2022 ISA WSG Silver Medalist Rio Waida (INA) and Reo Inaba (JPN). Whoever places highest in the event will claim the slot. Five European men, representing five different countries, remain in contention, along with six women representing four countries. Each of the women are still in the Main Round.

Saffi Vette and Billy Stairmand of Team New Zealand with ISA President Fernando Aguerre / Photo: Jersson Barboza

Jordy Smith (RSA) became the first surfer to officially qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games through the 2023 WSG after Teva Bouchgua (MAR) was eliminated in Repechage Round 6. Though Smith also has a strong likelihood to qualify through the WSL CT, he was relieved to confirm his slot in El Salvador. This will be the veteran campaigner’s first Olympics, after his withdrawal from Tokyo 2020 due to injury.

“The guarantee is always the best option,” Smith said. “For me it’s overwhelming to be able to qualify now. Having the opportunity to surf at Teahupo’o is going to be insane. I’ve been going there since I was 14-years-old, so I’ve got a lot of experience. Hopefully mother nature plays ball on those days and we come away with gold.”

If Smith does qualify via the CT his slot will go to the next eligible ranked surfer in the 2023 WSG regardless of continent.

Smith’s teammate Sarah Baum (RSA) has had a longer journey to the top level of international sport. After nearly qualifying for the WSL CT multiple times in her late teens, it took the 29-year-old over a decade, including many years away from competing, to finally reach the pinnacle and qualify for the Olympic Games.

“Honestly, I’m so lost for words,” Baum said. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster the last week, so to finally do it and have the whole team here, the flags are flying everywhere, everyone is screaming, it’s just a dream come true. I’m so happy. I can’t wait to just go get barrelled.”

As each of the other women chasing the slot for Asia were eliminated one-by-one over the course of the Repechage rounds, Japan’s Shino Matsuda (JPN) was thrilled to qualify for the second time.

After losing her provisional Tokyo 2020 slot at the 2021 WSG, it was sweet redemption for Matsuda to be the first surfer from Japan to officially qualify for Paris 2024. The 20-year-old is also happy to have time to prepare for the waves of Teahupo’o, Tahiti, the venue for Surfing in Paris 2024.

Shino Matsuda of Team Japan with ISA President Fernando Aguerre / Photo: Jersson Barboza

“I’m really happy to get the qualification a year before the Olympics is going to happen,” Matsuda said. “Teahupo’o is a very challenging venue, so I would like to prepare over the coming year to be able to get good waves there.”

The Oceania slot came down to New Zealand teammates Saffi Vette and Paige Hareb. At the beginning of the day Hareb was still in the main draw, however a knee injury sustained during her Main Round 3 heat left her unable to compete at her best and she was relegated to Repechage. Meanwhile, Vette snuck through four Repechage heats in a row with buzzer beaters, surprising even herself to end up ahead of Hareb and claim the slot.

“I’m obviously excited, but really terrified too,” Vette said. “I’ve never been to Tahiti before. I’m really excited to give it a red hot crack. I’m ready, I guess. Ready as I’ll ever be!”

Though it will be the second Olympic Games for Billy Stairmand (NZL), the emotions were still high. “Second time around, but it feels exactly the same as the first time,” Stairmand said. “It’s been a long journey to get back here.”

The 33-year-old came extremely close to beating eventual Gold Medalist Italo Ferreira (BRA) in Round 3 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. “I feel like in Tokyo I kind of left a little bit out there. I’m looking forward to Tahiti and to pushing my limits again and hopefully throwing myself over the ledge and getting some good barrels and hopefully progressing and getting a medal for New Zealand.”

Based on the updated Qualification System for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, all slots earned at the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games are confirmed and cannot be replaced in later qualifying events. All qualification places are subject to nomination by the respective National Olympic Committee (NOC) and each eligible CT surfer meeting the ISA Olympic Eligibility Requirements.

Carlos Muñoz, Team Costa Rica / Photo: Sean Evans

Carlos Muñoz (CRC) takes inspiration from Irons Brothers, boosts giant straight air

During the morning a strong cross-shore wind provided the perfect air wind for the La Bocana rights. Carlos Muñoz (CRC) took full advantage of the opportunity in the closing minutes of his Repechage Round 5 heat, boosting a giant straight air, from which he fell at least 8 feet to an easy completion.

“I for sure needed a score and I saw the ramp ahead of the thing and I was like, oh I gotta go for it,” Muñoz said. “I like to watch a lot of videos of Andy Irons and Bruce Irons and those are the types of airs I like to do. I’m glad that I landed it though! It was kind of gnarly, when I looked down I was like, oh my God, I’m going to die, but everything went good.”

Local Salvadoran Porfirio Miranda excels to make home nation proud

Porfirio Miranda is proud to call the venue of the 2023 WSG home. The Salvadoran went on an incredible winning streak through the event, putting on a show every time he hit the water. Though his run came to an end in Repechage Round 6, Miranda represented the host nation of El Salvador extremely well.

“I’m so happy to be competing at the ISA World Surfing Games here at home in El Tunco, at La Bocana, and El Sunzal,” Miranda said. “I’m happy to represent all of my people. So grateful to God for the opportunity, every heat has been so emotional.”

Competition will resume tomorrow at 8:00am CST with Men’s Main Round 5, location to be determined.

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