Toes On The Sand At The 2023 ISA World Surf Games - Stab Mag
JJF and Shane Dorian surveying their aquatic domain. Photo: ISA/Juani Gayol

Toes On The Sand At The 2023 ISA World Surf Games

Gallery: Here’s what it looks like to wander around surfing’s Olympic qualifier.

news // Jun 8, 2023
Words by Christian Bowcutt
Reading Time: 4 minutes

There were 297 surfers from 63 different nations competing at this year’s ISA World Games — the largest and most diverse turnout ever.

Spanning eight days, the Games were a veritable melting pot of different cultures, languages, and perspectives all brought together by an activity as pointless and poetic as wave-riding.

Here’s 16 photos depicting what it might look like to saunter (and paddle) around the Games yourself:

Opening Ceremony. Photo: ISA/Sean Evans
Iran’s first woman’s surfer — Setareh Mazhari — carrying sand from Iran to the “Sands of the World” ceremony. in 2016, Setareh saw a video of hijab-wearing female surfers in Iran near her home in Baluchestan. She had surfed on vacation before but had never thought of surfing her home waters. She began surfing in Iran and formulated a dream of surfing on the national team, which came true this year. Setareh says, “I would like people to know that Baluchestan is an amazing place, with fantastic beaches and kind, hospitable and polite people.” Photo: ISA/Pablo Franco
Photo: Sean Evans
Gabriel Medina and pit crew. Photo: ISA/Pablo Franco
Senegal’s Cherif Fall and friends. Cherif is one of Billabong’s rising stars, starring in a biopic with Italo Ferreira last year. He’s also married to a female surf photographer — smart man. Photo: ISA/Sean Evans
One of those pre-comp freesurfs where there are a million people out who surf better than you, you get one single wave, and you’re still kinda just happy to be there. Photo: ISA/Jersson Barboza
Tahitian Vahine Fierro for Team France. A deadly asset for France at Teahupo’o. She took out long-time CT stand-out Sally Fitzgibbons two heats in a row to make the final. Photo: ISA/Pablo Franco
Team Ukraine x Sally Fitzgibbons group hug. Side note: Russia is not allowed to compete in the ISA World Surfing Games. Photo: Pablo Franco
Stab High star — México’s Sebastian Williams Hernández — post-heat win. Sebastian lives in a small village in Oaxaca called Laguna de Chacaua. It’s so remote that it has its own time zone — locals call it “La Hora de Dios”. Photo: ISA/Pablo Jimenez
Photo: Jersson Barboza
Team Italy really leaning into their fashion ethos with those t-shirts. Photo: ISA/Pablo Franco
Griffin Colapinto with Team India. This was Team India’s first time competing at the World Games. To learn more about their story, here’s a link to our interview with their coach. Photo: ISA/Juani Gayol
Trinidad and Tobago’s Jude Gomez and Jamaica’s Icah Wilmot — (stereotypically) fueled by delicious Caribbean jerk chicken and Red Stripe Beer Photo: ISA/Juani Gayol
Team Peru’s Sol Aguirre strutting her way to the top and helping her nation take overall gold. Photo: ISA/Sean Evans
Shiny things and the “Sands of the World”. Photo: ISA/Jersson Barboza
Traditional Salvadoreño dancers. We’ll likely see them again today or tomorrow for the CT event. Photo: ISA/Pablo Franco


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