The Billabong Pro Costa Rica


Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica (Sunday, March 25, 2001). Just one week afterwinning the Nations Challenge in the Billabong Pro Panama, Puerto Escondidolocal Raul Noyola has set an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)record by becoming the first Mexican to win a World Qualifying Series event(WQS). Noyola’s dramatic win came in 5-7 foot beach break surf that issimilar, though less powerful, to the waves of his home break, the “MexicanPipeline”.

Waves consistently poured through for the entire event, and the conditionstested the fitness of all competitors, leaving many surfers short of threehigh scores while losing time in difficult paddle outs. An exception wasJulia Christian, of Carlsbad, California. Coached in this event by 7 timesPanamanian National champion Gary Saavedra, Christian surfed perfectcompetitive heats, returning to the shore after each wave and paddling outin the rip current between the sandbanks.

Her strategy paid off in the final, where she emerged a clear winner, aheadof local favorite Lisbeth Vindas. Just last week at the Billabong ProPanama, 18-year-old Christian was placed 2nd behind World Championship Tourseed Keala Kennelly, and must be seen as the brightest prospect fromSouthern California. Robyn Davies from the UK took the three largest wavesof the final, but unfortunately all closed out, and she was left with lowscores and third place. Filling fourth place was Costa Rican Andrea Diaz,who also received much crowd support.

Fellow countryman Gilbert Brown justified his wildcard slot in the men’sevent, and was cheered on to a well-deserved fifth place finish. Along withDiego Naranjo, Freddy Camacho and Geancarlo Loria, Brown is one of CostaRica’s hottest locals. Peruvian wildcard Magoo De La Rosa, who free fellinto the pit and emerged some seconds later from the barrel of the event,was unlucky not to advance from his quarterfinal.

In the men’s final, Mike Hoisington surfed as good as ever, but with wavechoice a deciding factor, was let down by a lower third ride. Standoutsurfer of the event was Asher Nolan, who blitzed all his earlier heats withhard fast verts on the larger waves, but ran out of steam in the final tofinish third. Most disappointed was fourth placed Matt Keenan who had aimedfor a better finish than the third place he received in the Billabong ProPanama final the week before.

But the waves at Puerto Escondido had more than prepared Raul for thisfinal. The stocky, powerful Noyola threw chunks of spray on each turn, andended the close out section with huge moves. The foundations of professionalsurfing laid by fellow locals Roberto Salina, Coco Nogales and Eric Ramirezfor newcomers David Rutherford, Oscar Moncada and others had borne fruitthrough Raul Noyola’s victory in Costa Rica. The popular winner was theLatino toast of the night. Mexican surfing has come of age.

The Sunchild tour continued in this land of abundant reef, point and beachbreaks with a concert at the event site, where they played alongside reggae,trance and punk bands late into the tropical night. After the event,contestants, spectators and party people wearily made their ways back alongthe dusty roads to the wooden bungalows they called home, stoked to havebeen a part of the Billabong Central American Series 2001. Bring it on 2002!

Results of the Billabong Pro Costa Rica Men’s
1st Raul Noyola MEX $4,000
2nd Mike Hoisington USA $2,000
3RD Asher Nolan USA $1,500
4th Matt Keenan USA $1,300
5th Gilbert Brown CR $1,000
5th James Pribram USA $1,000
7th Diego Salgado BRZ $800
7th J Senn USA $800

Results of the Billabong Pro Costa Rica Women’s
1st Julia Christian USA $2,000
2nd Lisbeth Vindez CR $900
3RD Robyn Davies UK $600
4th Andrea Diaz CR $500
5th Brooks Wilson USA $300
5th Claire Karabatsos FRA $300
7th Natalie Alverez USA $200
7th Siri Kota USA $200