Women Push the Standard to New Heights on Day Three at 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games

June 2nd, 2023

Tiara van der Huls (NED) takes commitment to the next level, collects highest wave score of the event

Leonardo Fioravanti posts highest Men’s numbers, makes clear his intention to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in El Salvador

German women lead in tight race for European continental qualification for Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Setareh Mazhari becomes first Iranian woman to compete in the ISA

Surf City El Salvador – June 2, 2023

A rising swell notched up the intensity on day three of the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games (WSG). Women’s action shifted to the main podium of La Bocana for Main Round 2, while Men’s Main Round 2 was completed at El Sunzal. The first eliminations took place at both podiums in the afternoon as Repechage Round 1 for Men and Women began.

Provisionally qualified Paris 2024 Olympians Johanne Defay and Tatiana Weston-Webb each put up large numbers to win their heats. Standout moments also came from Australian duo Sally Fitzgibbons and Sophie McCulloch, as well as Costa Rica’s Leilani McGonagle. And once again, the power of Olympic Gold Medalist Carissa Moore (USA) was on full display as she posted multiple 8-point rides.

“Watching from the beach I was like this wave is fire,” Moore said, “There’s some really nice steep sections so I was actually frothing. So stoked to find a couple and just let go.”

Tiara van der Huls, Team Netherlands / Photo: Sean Evans

Women’s Main Round 2, Heat 11 promised to be exciting on paper, featuring Tokyo 2020 Olympians Caroline Marks (USA) and Anat Lelior (ISR), along with 2022 ISA World Junior U/16 Gold Medalist Erin Brooks (CAN) and Tiara van der Huls (NED). Marks set the heat ablaze, dropping the highest wave score of the event on her first wave ever surfed at La Bocana, an 8.67, before going even higher with a 9.00.

Though Marks finished with the highest heat total of the event (17.67), it was the relatively unknown van der Huls whose name was on everyone’s lips. A phenomenally committed lip-line hit on a double-overhead wave ended up overtaking Marks’ top score for a 9.03 and providing progression for the 16-year-old Dutch surfer.

The location of the turn left judges unable to see the end of the wave clearly and the initial score came through as a 1.50. Upon further video review towards the end of the heat, the judges adjusted the score to reflect the execution and completion of the maneuver.

“I was just shocked that I actually committed on that turn,” van der Huls said. “I was working on my bottom turn with Beyrick (de Vries), my coach, and waiting till I get to the top and then committing to the turn and that’s what I did. I landed it for my feeling and then they gave me the score, a 1-point-something. I was like ok, that’s ok. I was just really happy I committed on that one. And now I’ve heard I made the heat, I’m just super, super happy.”

Germany isn’t the first country to think of when listing powerful surfing nations, but the strength of their team is turning heads. With all three of the German women winning each heat they’ve surfed so far in the event, the trio featuring Rachel Presti, Noah Klapp and Camilla Kemp, is standing out, especially in regard to the European continental Olympic Games qualification conversation.

Leonardo Fioravanti, Team Italy / Photo: Jersson Barboza

2015 ISA World Junior U/18 Gold Medalist and Tokyo 2020 Olympian Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) set the bar in the Men’s division today. An 8.67 was the highest single wave score of the day, backed up with a 7.50 he also collected the highest heat total (16.17). Progressing with Alex Suarez (ECU), the pair sent current world number one Griffin Colapinto (USA) into repechage.

“I woke up this morning, it was clean, it was perfect and I love El Sunzal,” Fioravanti said. “I think it’s an amazing wave, especially on the right tide. I was just excited to go out and do some of my surfing and I’m really glad that it paid off.”

The knowledge that he has a chance to solidify qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games this week is pushing the Italian to bring his best. “I have an amazing chance of qualifying from the World Tour, but I’m here and I want to do it this week,” Fioravanti continued. “I don’t want to leave it up to some of the other guys on tour, who knows if they get on a streak. I have a really good chance over here and I want to give it my best.”

Highlight performances also came from Liam O’Brien (AUS) and Kauli Vaast (FRA), as well as Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), who looked like he was having a lot of fun in the great conditions the right point break of El Sunzal was providing.

Setareh Mazhari, Team Iran / Photo: Sean Evans

The final heat of the day was emotional on multiple levels as Setareh Mazhari (IRI) took to the water. The full support of the beach was behind the 33-year-old trailblazer, who is the first woman from Iran to compete in the ISA. Beyond the competition, the moment was symbolic for Mazhari.

“I am an Iranian girl,” Mazhari said. “You can name me Mona or Shahla, the pioneers of surfing in Iran as women in 2013. You can name me Rana, the first champion of Iran Surfing National Championships in 2019. You can name me Azade or Zahra, the first Iranian girls who ever competed in international events, in the Asian Surfing Championships in 2019. Or you can name Farima, Viana, Mehrnesa, Mahkameh or Venous, the girls who won the ISA annual scholarship for surfers under 18, who you will see here in the ISA World Surfing Games in the near future. Thank you to the ISA, Iran Surfing Association and everyone who supported before from the beginning.”

ISA President, Fernando Aguerre said:

“What an amazing moment to watch Setareh, this strong young woman from Iran, compete for her country here. The symbolism of her participation is huge as it demonstrates the power of surfing for a better world.”

Competition will resume tomorrow at 8:00am CST with Men’s Main Round 3 at La Bocana and the continuation of Women’s Repechage Round 1 at El Sunzal.

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