Stars of the Surfing World Shine in Huntington Beach

September 17th, 2022

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Silver Medallist Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) delivers highest heat total

15-year-old Eeli Timperi (FIN) defeats his heroes

Lithuania proud to represent the Baltic Coast on the global stage

Huntington Beach, USA – September 16th 2022

The first day of competition for the 2022 ISA World Surfing Games was a star-studded affair. Whether Olympians kick-starting their Paris 2024 campaigns, national champions stepping onto the international stage or fresh faces competing for the very first time, Huntington Beach was buzzing with the presence of some of the greatest surfers in the world.

Two prior ISA medallists and Olympians, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and Lucca Mesinas (PER) set a strong pace early, both finding solid 8-point rides with seamless connections through the famous outside and inside banks of Southside Huntington Pier.

Kanoa Igarashi - Team Japan. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

An added element of progression from Igarashi saw him take the highest score of the day, an 8.87 for a huge backhand hit out the back connected with a lofty air to tail drift close to shore.

Each of the other Tokyo 2020 Olympians in the draw advanced through their Round 1 heats, with the exception of current WSL Challenger Series rankings leader Rio Waida (IND) who was relegated to the repechage. Manuel Selman (CHI), Leon Glatzer (GER), Kolohe Andino (USA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), and Leandro Usuna (ARG) remain in the Main Round.

Former ISA gold medallists Santiago Muñiz (ARG) and Jhony Corzo (MEX) also showed winning form as they progressed alongside Usuna, who is a two-time ISA gold medallist as well as Olympian.

WSL Championship Tour surfers didn’t have quite as easy a road as they might have expected through the early rounds. Kolohe Andino (USA), Nat Young (USA), and brothers Samuel Pupo (BRA) and Miguel Pupo (BRA) each placed second in their respective heats. Though each of those surfers still advanced through the Main Round, it was only Jackson Baker (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA) and Griffin Colapinto (USA) who found Main Round 1 heat wins.


Griffin Colapinto - Team USA. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Despite his early win however, Colapinto was the first CT surfer to find himself in the repechage. A buzzer beater from Sean Foerster (CAN) in deteriorating conditions during the last heat of the day delivered the devastating blow to Team USA in Main Round 2.

Eeli Timperi (FIN) used his agile frame to beat out not one, but two Tokyo 2020 Olympians in tricky conditions at the south podium. The 15-year-old surfer representing Finland kept the form that saw him through numerous heats in the 2022 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in June, progressing ahead of Kolohe Andino (USA) and Rio Waida (IND).

Despite the broad gap in experience, Timperi was able to outsmart his fellow competitors. “Patience at the start was pretty much key for me,” he said. “It feels a lot more competitive (than the juniors), but I’m really stoked to be here.”

As the pioneer of the surfing community in Lithuania, it was fitting that Girmantas Neniškis was the first representative of the Baltic coast to surf in international competition.

“The biggest win for Lithuania and the Baltics in general is that we are here, representing the region at the global stage,” he said. “My father and uncle, they would windsurf, and I was too small to uphold the sail, so I would just pick up a windsurf board…and started catching little waves. I caught the first one and then I kept chasing the feeling. That happened in the early 90’s, right after Lithuania regained independence from the Soviet Union.”

ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:

“When we debuted the World Surfing Games here in Huntington Beach in 1996 there were 30 teams. It’s incredible to now see over 50 nations competing, including surfers from Lithuania, Algeria and Saudi Arabia for the very first time.

“Even 10 years ago we could never have dreamed of how diverse the match-ups in the heats today would be. And the level of performance is beyond amazing. What these surfers are able to do blows my mind.

“What is also incredible is how strong the spirit of the ISA is. Here we have Olympians, ISA medallists and Championship Tour surfers sometimes in heats with surfers who have never competed before in their life. The joy in their surfing and their love of the ocean transcends the competition as they are able to share such incredible moments in the water.

“The debut of surfing in the Olympics has truly been a game-changer for the development of our sport.”



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