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.”