Costa Rica defends its title as the 2016 ISA World Surfing Games come to Playa Jacó

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Noe McGonagle of Costa Rica celebrating first place overall in 2015 World Surfing Games.

International surfing competition is returning home to Costa Rica, as the International Surfing Association (ISA) just announced that the 2016 ISA World Surfing Games will be held in the Pacific beach town of Jacó from August 6-14 this year.

The event has already created a lot of buzz in the surfing community, as the Costa Rican team tries to defend the world title they won at 2015’s World Surfing Games in the neighboring country of Nicaragua. The competition is always fierce and the surfing contentious, but if Costa Rica can pull off a win on their home waves this August, they will be the first back-to-back winner since Team Australia accomplished the feat in 2008.

Costa Rica’s 2015 world champion team was considered one of the best ever assembled in the sport, often called “The Dream Team of Surfing.” Their medal winning run was bolstered by a legendary performance by Tico and Pavones local Noe Mar McGonagle, who racked up a near-perfect 9.93 score.

This year’s team will feature Noe Mar McGonagle again, as well as his talented sister, Leilani, and rising surfing stars Anthony Fillingim and Carlos “Cali” Muñoz.

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Celebrating first place in 2015!

“To be at home this time around makes it even more special for us,” said McGonagle. “And it’s great to know that we’ll have all of our fans there. It’s just another dream come true.”

It won’t be an easy task, as the surfing looks to be some of the best the competition has ever seen. At last year’s championship event, 132 surfers represented 27 countries, and 2016’s World Surfing Games is expected to be even bigger – with an added incentive that has all of the participants eager to perform their best.

These ISA games will be the first after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) makes their decision whether or not to include Surfing in their Sports Program at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Japan’s Olympic committee has already formally recommended to the IOC that Surfing to be added to the lineup of official events in the 2020 games, and that governing body will make their final decision on Surfing’s inclusion at the IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro in early August.

If (and hopefully, when) the IOC approves Surfing as an Olympic sport for the 2020 Games, that will mean the ISA World Surfing Games in Costa Rica will be the first major world championship to take place with surfing as an official Olympic event.

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The crowd at the 2009 World Surf Games in Playa Hermosa was unreal…this year will be bigger and better!

“I am ecstatic to confirm that the ISA will return to Costa Rica for the 2016 ISA World Surfing Games, providing the world’s top surfers with the dreamy, impressive waves that their shoreline has to offer,” said ISA President Fernando Aguerre. “Surfing is an integral and vibrant part of Costa Rican culture and the performance of their athletes at an international level attests to this. With Team Costa Rica defending their title in their home waves and the pending Olympic announcement, this event has all the elements to be a monumental milestone for Surfing.”

Since 1964, the ISA World Surfing Games have hosted the Olympic-style event, including national surfing teams from countries around the world. Teams consist of four men and two women, and compete for individual medals as well as the highly sought World Team Champion Trophy, giving the winning nation bragging rights as the best surfers in the world for at least one year.

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Carlos Munoz is sure to put on a show in his own Backyard!

The competition is not only a chance to claim top-dog honors in the world of surfing but also bolsters the local economy and reaffirms Costa Rica as one of the top tourist destinations in the world for beach lovers. In fact, the Costa Rican Surf Federation estimates that about 20 percent of visitors to the country every year come to surf, which adds up to at least 400,000 eager wave enthusiasts annually, with an estimated economic impact of about $300 million. Having the 2016 ISA World Surfing Games in Jacó will only further that trend.

Jacó is only a stone’s throw from Playa Hermosa, were the ISA World Surfing Games were held in 2009. Although it was widely attended by up to 100,000 eager surfing fans from all over the world, the event organizer’s were highly criticized for their lack of planning and infrastructure, as Highway 27 from San José to the Pacific coast was clogged and often at a standstill, causing confusion and delays. Still, it was the most attended sporting event in Costa Rican history (up to that point), and the ISA recognized that potential as they awarded Jacó these 2016 World Surfing Games.


It goes without saying that with well over 100,000 tourists and visitors descending upon Jacó and the Pacific beaches for the festivities, hotel rooms, condo and house rentals, rental cars, and other amenities will be at an all-time high demand. If you’d like to attend the 2016 ISA World Surfing Games or visit Jacó or anywhere in Costa Rica this summer, please contact us immediately so we can help you reserve the best accommodations at the best rates.


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