Spectacular Opening Ceremony Kicks off Historic ISA World Surfing Games in Biarritz, France

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Women display world-class talent in opening day of competition at Grande Plage

ATTENTION MEDIA: For daily photos, video highlights and video news releases, visit http://isaworlds.com/wsg/2017/en/media/

Full results from Saturday’s competition: http://isaworlds.com/wsg/2017/en/results/

The 2017 ISA World Surfing Games were officially inaugurated by ISA President Fernando Aguerre at the Opening Ceremony here in Biarritz, France today.

47 nations celebrate the opening of the 2017 ISA World Surfing Games in Biarritz, France. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Thousands of locals gathered in the streets of Biarritz to witness the 245 surfers from a record-breaking 47 countries display their national pride and excitement for the week of competition to come.

The ceremony began with the Parade of Nations, as each National Team marched through the vibrant crowds in the streets of Biarritz waving their national flags and performing national chants in unison. The parade continued to the Opening Ceremony stage where they were greeted by the Mayor of Biarritz, Michel Veunac, ISA President Fernando Aguerre, President of the French Surfing Federation, Jean-Luc Arassus, Honorary Patron of the event, Tom Curren, and ISA Vice President, Karín Sierralta.

The Parade of Nations marches down the boardwalk at Grande Plage in Biarritz. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

An amazing Sands of the World Ceremony came right afterwards. Two members from each team took to the main stage pouring sand from their local beach into a glass container while waving their national flag, symbolizing the peaceful gathering nations of the world through Surfing.

After the Sands of the World Ceremony, a traditional Basque performance showed the visiting nations a cultural song and dance.

ISA President Fernando Aguerre, addressed the crowd of thousands at the Opening Ceremony stage.

“Today we come to Biarritz as the true and only ISA, the United Nations of Surfing, to these World Surfing Games, which are truly the Olympics of Surfing. In these times of violence, wars and conflicts, we celebrate our diversity in union. We have all come together, bringing our symbolic Sands of the World, to symbolize the unity of the world in peace through Surfing.

“I would like to express the ISA’s maximum gratitude and recognition to the French Surfing Federation and its wonderful President Jean-Luc Arassus, that led and organized these Games. My deepest gratitude also is extended to the city of Biarritz, and our Public and Private sector sponsors and partners. We would not be here if it were not for them and their hard work.

“To all the athletes, enjoy the new friendships, the beautiful Basque culture, and the spirit of Biarritz. Go home as ambassadors of Biarritz and France, our wonderful world-class hosts.”

In addition to the Opening Ceremony, the first rounds of competition took to the water with the Women displaying their world-class talent in fluctuating conditions at Grande Plage. The women opened up with Round 1 of the Main Event and Round 1 of Repechage.

The Main Event started off early in the morning in challenging conditions as rain squalls and stiff onshore wind made it difficult to find waves with high scoring potential. After the mid-morning break for the Opening Ceremony, the conditions improved. Cloudy skies gave way to sun and a light sea breeze and the people of Biarritz filled the beach to catch a glimpse of the action.

Johanne Defay en route to posting the highest heat total of the day (15.40). Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

France’s Johanne Defay (15.40), Costa Rica’s Leilani McGonagle (14.70) and New Zealand’s Ella Williams (14.03), stood out from the competition, notching the three highest heat totals of the day.

Costa Rica’s Leilani McGonagle takes advantage of the improved afternoon conditions. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Pauline Ado complimented Johanne Defay’s strong performance for Team France and took first place in her heat as well with a total of 11.40. Ado shared her pride about representing her nation of France after her Main Event heat victory.

“It’s great to be representing France. I’ve always been a huge fan of the ISA World Surfing Games because we get to surf as a team and it adds more excitement.”

The afternoon finished with eight rounds of the first and only Repechage Round in the Women’s Division. Fourteen surfers were eliminated through the 8 rounds, knocking the first competitors out of the competition.

Despite being eliminated in her Repechage heat, Aleyna Hadimoglu from Team Turkey exemplified the growth that Surfing has experienced after Olympic inclusion as the first woman to represent her country in an ISA World Championship.

“I am so happy to be the first female surfer in my country. I want to be a role model for female surfers back in Turkey to inspire them.

“This event truly feels like the Olympics of Surfing with all of the national teams. It makes me proud to represent my country.”

The schedule for Sunday’s competition is as follows:

7am – 7:30am: 2 heats Women Repechage Round 1
7:30am – 12:30pm: 15 heats Women Main Event Round 2
12:30pm – 3:10pm: Women Main Event Round 3
3:10 – 4:30pm: 4 heats Women Quarterfinals

The Surfline official forecast is calling for continued chest high waves on Sunday morning to slowly fade to the waist high range in the afternoon with clean, offshore conditions.

The schedule for the remainder of the event is as follows (Central European Time):

May 21-22 – Women’s Competition, Grande Plage
May 22 – Women’s Award Ceremony, Grande Plage
May 23-28 – Men’s Competition, Grande Plage
May 26 – World Premiere of “Shredding Monsters”, an Olympic Channel Production, 8pm at the Municipal Casino Theatre, Biarritz
May 28 – Closing Ceremony, Grande Plage

Watch the event live May 20-28 on www.isaworlds.com.

The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; and World StandUp Paddle (SUP) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012.

ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 100 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. The ISA’s four Vice-Presidents are Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL).