Opening Men’s Round at ISA World Surfing Games Demonstrates Explosive Growth and Universality of Surfing

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Newcomer nations Afghanistan, Greece, Senegal, China inspire on the fourth day of competition in Biarritz, France

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National flags and team camaraderie were on display on the fourth day of competition at the 2017 ISA World Surfing Games. The record-breaking 47 competing nations showcased the universality and growth of the sport of Surfing.

The international Surfing community gathered in Biarritz shows support to their competing athletes from the shore. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Newcomer nations such as, Afghanistan, Greece, Senegal and China, got their chance to show the world the great leaps of growth that their non-traditional Surfing nations have experienced in recent years, and especially since the inclusion of Surfing in the Olympic Games.

In a day of Men’s Open and Repechage Surfing, Afghanistan’s sole representative, Afridun Amu, took to the water in third heat of the day and made history as the first surfer to ever represent Afghanistan in an ISA World Championship.

“My participation here represents two things,” said Amu. “First, it’s fun. Surfing is my passion and I love being here. Secondly, I hope that I can be an ambassador of my country and show people the bright side of Afghanistan that is not portrayed in the news.”

Afridun Amu takes historic steps into the first heat that an Afghan surfer has competed in at an ISA World Championship. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Greece, Senegal, Chinese Taipei and China, all first-time competing nations, also proudly surfed for their countries, gaining the valuable experience of participating in a world championship.

“Greece is a new country to Surfing and we are making our best effort to improve,” said Christos Chatzis, the sole representative of Team Greece. “I almost had a heart attack going out in the water because the level of talent here is so high.

“My goal is to transfer the message of what is happening at this event to the younger guys in Greece and encourage them to compete next year. Overall, my experience in Biarritz has been like a dream!”

Team China also exemplified the universality of Surfing present at the event. Peter Townend, a former World Champion and coach of Team China, spoke about the progress being made in the development of this newly introduced sport in the country.

“It’s incredible the countries that are represented at this year’s edition of the ISA World Surfing Games. I’ve surfed for my country, I’ve coached Team USA to Gold, and now I have entered a new phase and have become the first-ever official coach of China’s National Surfing Team.

“After inclusion in the Olympics, China’s National Olympic Committee was motivated to get behind the sport and has been supporting the athletes. We are taking baby steps, but we are making progress.

“Coming to this event is mostly a learning experience for my team. We can see where we stand against the best teams in the world and make an assessment on how we can improve ahead of Tokyo 2020.”

In addition to the inspiring performances from non-traditional Surfing nations, some of the top male surfers in the world also put on a spectacular display of high performance Surfing.

In a day full of air reverses and progressive maneuvers, Mexico’s Dylan Southworth stood out from the field with the highest heat total of the day with 16.16 followed by Vicente Romero’s (ESP) 14.67.

Germany’s Leon Glatzer takes advantage of the ramps that Grande Plage had on offer. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Notably, the reigning world champion, Leandro Usuna (ARG), advanced through his heat in second position and will continue onto Round 2, a single elimination round.

France’s two WSL Championship Tour surfers, Joan Duru and Jeremy Flores, each won their respective heats, looking to compliment the podium finishes of their female teammates Pauline Ado and Johanne Defay.

Joan Duru gets vertical en route to his Round 1 heat victory for Team France. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Visiting Biarritz to experience the festivities of the ISA World Surfing Games was IOC Sports Director, Kit McConnell.

“It is Surfing’s community and passion that attracted Tokyo 2020 and the IOC to the sport,” explained McConnell. “We want to embrace that international community and create a connection with the Olympic Movement.”

“It’s incredible to see the universality of Surfing, with countries competing such as China, Chinese Taipei, and Senegal. We hope that through Olympic inclusion we will get more visibility and growth for the sport at a national level.

“I am looking forward to seeing some of these nations compete at Tokyo 2020.”

The schedule for Wednesday’s competition is as follows*:

7am – 11:15am: 17 heats Men Repechage Round 1
11:15am – 4:55pm: 17 heats Men Main Event Round 2

*Schedule subject to change.

The Surfline official forecast is calling for continued new west swell in the waist to chest high range at Grande Plage.

The schedule for the remainder of the event is as follows:

May 24-28 – Men’s Competition, Grande Plage
May 26 – World Premiere of “Shredding Monsters”, an Olympic Channel Production, 8pm CET at the Municipal Casino Theatre, Biarritz
May 28 – Closing Ceremony, Grande Plage

Watch the event live May 20-28 on

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).