Last Olympic Qualifier To Be Held At Puerto Rican Slab - Stab Mag
The view looking into the right at Margara. Demonstrably different than any other venue featured at the ISA World Surfing Games. Photo: Jorge Rivera

Last Olympic Qualifier To Be Held At Puerto Rican Slab

The 2024 ISA World Games could feature the heaviest waves in the event’s history.

elsewhere // Mar 20, 2023
Words by Christian Bowcutt
Reading Time: 2 minutes

It appears the International Surfing Association is taking baby steps to Teahupo’o.

The International Surfing Association (ISA) announced this week that the 2024 World Games will be held in Arecibo, on the northern coast of Puerto Rico.

The primary wave is slated to be Margara, a lesser-known reef break. In my YouTube searches of the wave, the first thing that pops up are bodyboard edits — bodyboarders being the unsung heroes of slab pioneering.

A taste of Margara. In the first minute of this clip you’ll see enough to understand the difference between 2024’s ISA World Games and every single one before it.

This is a departure from any other wave featured at the ISA World Games. In the past five years the Games have taken place at:

2017: A French beach break.

2018: A Japanese beach break.

2019: A Japanese beach break.

2021: A Salvadoran beach break.

2022: Huntington Beach pier.

2023: A Salvadoran beach break (this May/June).

While these spots offered contestable conditions each year, they were safe and user-friendly. This is because the Games are similar to the World Baseball Classic in that the best in the world, at least initially, compete with those not much better than your average “9-5’er” (like the U.S. facing Great Britain last week).

The ISA World Games features surfers from countries like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Iran, where surfing is just beginning to take hold. Holding the contest at a wave like HB Pier all but guarantees that any surfer can make the paddle out, catch a wave, and reach the beach unscathed.

The same promise cannot be made in Puerto Rico. As you’ll see in the clip above, the wave is no teletubbie. I’d venture to say that, at its best, the wave is halfway to Teahupo’o’s power. While this will allow countries to dip their toes into the proverbial pond before Tahiti, it will also likely be problematic for those countries who have never sampled a slab before. Should be a fun broadcast.

John Wayne = the International Surfing Association. Kid = developing surf nations. Pond = Margara slab.

Anyways, here’s what’s at stake at this years 2023 ISA World Surfing Games (in El Salvador) and next year’s 2024 ISA World Games (in Puerto Rico) according to the ISA and the International Olympic Committee:

2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games: “The Games will serve as the second event in the Olympic Qualification process, with four slots up for grabs for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games (to be held in Tahiti). In El Salvador, the four top ranked surfers by continent for each gender will qualify 1 place each by name”.

2024 ISA World Surfing Games: “The 2024 WSG will see the culmination of two years of Olympic qualification, with a total of 14 Olympic slots up for grabs. Puerto Rico will see surfing history made as the top five ranking eligible men and top seven ranking eligible women claim their slots.”

“National team dynamics will be in full effect for the 2024 WSG, as the top-ranked Men’s and Women’s national teams will each earn an additional slot for their nation. The 2022 WSG in Huntington Beach saw intense action as the Japanese Men’s team and USA Women’s team earned additional slots for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, so be held in Tahiti’s famous Teahupo’o.”

All things considered, 2024 is set to be the most exciting ISA World Games ever run — if there’s swell.

It may be just a baby step to Teahupo’o, but it’s a giant leap for many of surfing’s newest countries.


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