The sad insignificance of the ISA
Words by Jake Howard The ISA doesn’t always get the kind of headlines the WSL does, but as far as contributing to surfing’s international mosaic they have a much more constructive fingerprint. Unfortunately however, to the general surf-pub the ISA carries a sad insignificance. And it shouldn’t, it’s the ISA that really brings surf communities from […]
Words by Jake Howard
The ISA doesn’t always get the kind of headlines the WSL does, but as far as contributing to surfing’s international mosaic they have a much more constructive fingerprint. Unfortunately however, to the general surf-pub the ISA carries a sad insignificance. And it shouldn’t, it’s the ISA that really brings surf communities from around the world together. Go to any of their events and you can’t make it five yards down the beach without getting hit in the face by a flag. A record 36 countries sent teams to the recent Junior Championship compared to the eight countries (nine if you count Hawaii) that are represented on the WSL men’s tour. In total the ISA has 97 member countries.
They’ve also announced that organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are recommending that should surfing get included in the Olympics it should take place in real, or “natural” waves. Like with salt water and fish and stuff. So we got that going for us, which is nice.
You know what else is nice? Leonardo Fioravanti winning a gold medal at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in Oceanside last weekend. In the first five minutes of the final the Italian hammer-foot dropped a 10 and a 9.23. Mind you, it was less than a year ago that Pipeline broke his back. Inspiring? Yes.
And in case you missed it, which you probably did. The ISA also doled out a gold medal to the U.S. Junior team. That’s never happened.
“There’s so many stories on this beach,” beamed a proud ISA prez; Mr Fernando Aguerre.
Just look at what Dane Gudauskas did with the Norwegians this year. His humble squad of sunburned Vikings was never going to contend for a medal. Just making a heat was a big deal. And in the end they did beat Uruguay, Venezuela and Jamaica.
“They were psyching just to be there,” said Gudauskas. “That was their first contest.”
Dane Gudang and first contest froth with the Norwegians. Photo: ISA
And when it comes to spreading the stoke, the ISA also works towards growing the pond in less established regions. Offering a scholarship program to aspiring kids around the world, in the past they’ve rewarded funds to kids from out-of-the-way places like India, Algeria and Ghana.
This year they hosted the first-ever adaptive championships—and they continue to host bodyboarding, kneeboarding and SUP championships. As far as “waterman” related content, they’re producing it in spades.
Ah, and they’re the ones that have ushered surfing into the Olympics. The WSL may allow their surfers to break from their exclusivity contracts and compete in 2020, but it’s Aguerre and company that put in the hard yards. And whether you love or hate the idea, surfing in the Olympics will change the sport and the industry—and probably for the better.
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