The 2013 ISA World Masters Surfing Championship was officially declared open on Saturday after the teams and officials from 20 countries marched through the streets of Montanita in Ecuador in the Parade of Nations before gathering on the beach for the Sands of the World ceremony attended by local dignitaries and thousands of enthusiastic locals.

Team South Africa blew vuvuzelas as they walked through the streets thronged with locals on their way to the Concha Acustica stage that was located adjacent to the ocean. There Greg Emslie and Heather Clark represented South Africa on the stage to display the national flag and pour sand from SA beaches into a glass container symbolizing the peaceful gathering of nations through the love of surfing.

“I am very happy to see the love Ecuador’s people have for the ocean, and I have high hopes for this championship and that it marks the relationship between people and the ocean,” remarked ISA President Fernando Aguerre. “Montanita is a wonderful place, it’s an incredible paradise. Take care of it and give it your love. Thank you Ecuador, Santa Elena, Montanita, the government, the private sector and the people of Ecuador. Thank you for having us.”

Ecuador’s Minister of Sport, Jose Francisco Cevallos, thanked all those present for their support for the event and after a beautiful performance of local Ecuadorian traditional dances, ISA President Aguerre, Minister Cevallos and Governor of Santa Elena, John Paul Soto, officially declared open the 2013 ISA World Masters Surfing Championship open.

Following the opening ceremony, a seven metre high sculpture of a surfer was unveiled to mark Montanita as an international surfing destination.

The ISA World Masters Surfing Championships runs until Sunday 14 April and will crown team and individual champions in age divisions including Over 35 (Masters), Over 40 (Grandmasters), Over 45 (Kahunas) and Over 50 (Grandkahunas) for men and Over 35 for women. The top four finishers in each category receive Gold, Silver, Bronze and Copper medals respectively with the winning national team also receiving the ISA World Team Trophy.

South Africa is the most successful country in the event, winning the team trophy at the inaugural event in 2007 in Puerto Rico and successfully defending their title in Peru in 2008 before finishing runner-up in Panama in 2010 and third in El Salvador in 2011. Australia, Hawaii and the USA have each clinched the team title once.

South Africans have also won a total of seven individual gold medals with Chris Knutsen (Durban) winning three (One Kahunas and two Grandkahunas), Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) earning two in the Women’s Masters and Marc Wright (Durban North) and Andrew Banks (Port Shepstone) one each in the Kahunas and Masters respectively.

The ISA World Masters Surfing Championships uses a double elimination format where all competitors remain in the Qualifying stream in their divisions as long as they finish first or second in their heats, with the top two advancing directly to the Grand Final. Third and fourth placed competitors drop into the cutthroat Repercharge stream where they have to compete in many more heats to reach the Grand Final and any result other than first or second sees them eliminated from the event.

Competition in the various age categories starts today (Sunday) with the morning show webcast at 7:40am (2.40pm SA Time) followed by Qualify Round 1 of Grand Masters at 8am (3pm in SA), Qualify 1 of Masters at 11am (6pm in SA) and Qualify 1 of Kahunas at 2:20pm (9.20pm in SA)

All the action from the event, including live webcasts, daily videos, photos, results and contest news in both English and Spanish can be found at www.isawmsc.com.

The SA Masters Team has been provided with kit by Quiksilver and Surfing South Africa. Financial support has been received from Sport and Recreation South Africa, benefactors and through fund raising efforts arranged by Surfing South Africa and the team members themselves.

2013 South African Masters Surfing Team
Over 35 (Masters) : Greg Emslie (East London) & Gary Van Wieringen (Warner Beach)
Over 40 (Grandmasters) : Wayne Monk (East London) & Carl Roux (Durban)
Over 45 (Kahunas) : David Malherbe & Andre Malherbe (both East London)
Over 50 (Grandkahunas) : Chris Knutsen (Durban)
Women Over 35 : Heather Clark (Port Shepstone)

  

 SA TEAM SURFERS AT MONTANITA SITE OF THE ISA WORLD MASTERS IN ECUADOR photo ISA TWEDDLE

ANDRE MALHERBE

GREG EMSLIE

HEATHER CLARK