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Kolohe Andino and Kanoa Igarashi will compete in surfing’s 2020 Olympics debut

Posted by Sue Steward on
Kolohe Andino and Kanoa Igarashi will compete in surfing’s 2020 Olympics debut

As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games nears, the shortlist of surfers in line to compete in the sport’s big debut is taking shape – and so far, two Orange County surfers have secured spots to compete in the historic event that will bring surfing to millions of viewers.

Huntington Beach local Kanoa Igarashi and San Clemente’s Kolohe Andino have both earned slots at the Olympics, meaning local surf fans will have familiar athletes to cheer on.

Igarashi, who has dual citizenship and will be surfing for the host country, is no stranger to the podium. The two-time winner of the U.S. Open of Surfing — at his home break in Huntington in 2017 and 2018 — began as a tyke taking tiny waves in Newport Beach and at the Huntington Beach Pier.

Had he not joined Japan’s roster, Igarashi likely wouldn’t have qualified for this Olympic Games, with stiff competition among United States athletes clamoring for the team’s two allotted spots for men.

Unlike typical surf contests, the mainland and Hawaii are combined for the upcoming Olympics, making it even harder to secure entry considering stand-out surfers such as John John Florence and Kelly Slater are in the running.

But one U.S. surfer who has made the team is Andino, it was announced Friday, Oct. 18.

Both Andino and Igarashi must still meet eligibility requirements of the International Surfing Association, the International Olympic Committee, and the respective national Olympic committees.

With the World Surf Tour events still in fierce competition mode — and the World Tour rankings one of the paths toward qualification — it’s unclear who will nab the second men’s spot. The final spots on Team USA’s two-man, two-woman Olympic team will be determined at the end of the WSL season in December – following the women’s Maui Pro event and the men’s Hawaii Pipe Masters event.

Andino is currently ranked fifth in the world on the World Tour and is the highest-ranked surfer from the United States.

The WSL CT is the pathway for 18 countries to qualify surfers for the Olympics. The remaining 22 surfers from countries that don’t participate in the WSL are determined through the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games and the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.

USA Surfing CEO Greg Cruse called Andino “Captain America.” Andino is a second-generation surfer, following in his father Dino’s footsteps as one of the world’s best surfers competing on the World Tour.

The younger Andino, 25, has won seven USA Surfing Championships and shattered records with nine National Scholastic Surfing Association championships a decade ago as an amateur. He joined the ranks of the world’s best in 2012.

Behind Andino in the rankings are Florence and fellow Hawaiian Seth Moniz, followed by 11-time World Champion Slater, who all have a chance to qualify for the Olympics.

Surfing News

Japan’s surfing spots prepare to cash in on Olympic wave

Posted by Sue Steward on
Japan’s surfing spots prepare to cash in on Olympic wave

Japan’s surfing spots are looking to ride a wave to economic revitalization before the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, when surfing will make its Olympic debut.

In the hope of attracting more tourists and stopping population decline, these municipalities are hosting surfing events and building special websites to promote themselves as destinations for surfing enthusiasts.

Ichinomiya in Chiba Prefecture will host the 2020 Olympic surfing event. Located on the Pacific coast, Tsurigasaki beach attracts many surfboarders in the early morning and late afternoon as it is easily accessible from Tokyo. The nearest station is Kazusa-Ichinomiya, which is about an hour by express train from Tokyo Station.

Each year, about 600,000 surfers visit Ichinomiya, population 12,000. It hosts an annual competition for professional surfing athletes from around the world and has seen its profile steadily grow.

In 2015, the Ichinomiya Municipal Government launched a comprehensive economic strategy focused on “surfonomics.”

It has built up a “surf street” along the beach with shops and restaurants. An information center opened in April 2018 rents out surfboards and bicycles for visitors to carry their gear on.

Since December 2016, Hyuga in Miyazaki Prefecture has also pursued an initiative dubbed “Relax Surf Town Hyuga”.

Having a warm climate, the city has one of Japan’s most popular surfing spots.

In 2017, it attracted 300,000 surfers and beachgoers, up from 200,000 in 2012.

Hyuga releases promotional videos on a special website as well as uploads images of its coastline on social media. It is working very hard to attract surfing events to capitalize on surfing’s Olympic debut.

Although Makinohara in Shizuoka Prefecture lost the bid to host the 2020 Olympic surfing events to Ichinomiya, it was chosen to host training facilities for the United States and other surfing teams.

The city, sitting directly across from the Izu Peninsula on the opposite side of Suruga Bay, also organizes lessons for elementary school students in order to introduce the sport at an early age.

Another spot that is known for quality waves is part of the Izu Islands, Niijima Island. It takes about 2½ hours to reach Niijima from Tokyo by high-speed ferry or 35 minutes by air.

Niijima Island used to host international surfing events and is trying to energize its economy by wooing back surfers.

The move seems to be succeeding as the annual domestic surfing festivals and competitions it hosts have led to an increase in surfers in recent years.

Surfing News

The qualified surfers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Posted by Sue Steward on
The qualified surfers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

The shortboard competition will be held at Tsurigasaki Beach, in Chiba. The quest for gold, silver, and bronze medals will include 20 male surfers and 20 female athletes.

Surfing’s qualification system for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is complex and consists of two entities – the World Surf League (WSL) and the International Surfing Association (ISA).

Both the professional world tour and the world governing body have decided to split the spots available for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Japan, the host country, has automatically secured one slot for a female surfer and another one for a male athlete.

Later, four events will determine the competitors who will participate in surfing’s Olympic debut. They are as follow:

·        2019 Pan American Games – 1 male surfer and 1 female surfer;

·        2019 ISA World Surfing Games – 4 male surfers and 4 female surfers;

·        2019 World Surf League – 10 male surfers and 8 female surfers;

·        2020 ISA World Surfing Games – 4 male surfers and 6 female surfers;

Each country can only qualify a maximum of two surfing athletes per gender.

Men

·        Lucca Mesinas, Best American Male Surfer at the 2019 Pan American Games

·        Shun Murakami, Best Asian Male Surfer at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games

·        Ramzi Boukhiam, Best African Male Surfer at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games

·        Billy Stairmand, Best Oceania Male Surfer at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games

·        Frederico Morais, Best European Male Surfer at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games

Women

·        Daniella Rosas, Best American Female Surfer at the 2019 Pan American Games

·        Bianca Buitendag, Best African Female Surfer at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games

·        Shino Matsuda, Best Asian Female Surfer at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games

·        Ella Williams, Best Oceania Female Surfer at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games

·        Anat Lelior, Best European Female Surfer at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games

The mentioned surfers have secured provisional spots in the Tokyo 2020 and will lose their places in case 2 other fellow countrymen and countrywomen finish ahead of them at the 2020 ISA World Surfing Games.

Therefore, the official list of surfing athletes that will take part in the competition will only be revealed fully in June 2020, after the re-allocation of unused quotas.

Surfing News

Surfing in Japan during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics

Posted by Sue Steward on
Surfing in Japan during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics

The 2020 Summer Olympics will take place in the capital of Japan, Tokyo. Interestingly, the world’s largest metropolitan area is also widely known for hosting world-class surf spots.

While tourists and sports fans from all around the world are in the city for the Summer Olympic Games, local surfers will be riding their daily waves. In fact, the Chiba region, which is near Tokyo, is considered as the birthplace and capital of the Japanese surfing culture.

Onjuku, Choshi, and Ichinomiya, which are located 40 kilometers away from Tokyo, are some of the best surfing spots in Chiba. Pollution and fishing harbors are the greatest threat to wave and surfing here.

Niijima, Oshima, and Hachijojima are three islands that are located off the coast of the capital, which often offer great surfing experiences for the local board riding community. So expect a laid back lifestyle and stunning sight-seeing.

Shonan and Shichirigahama – in the Kanagawa prefecture – are two famous wave peaks that face southern swells coming from the Pacific Ocean.

Shikoku, the fourth largest island in Japan, also offers impressive river mouth waves. Ikumihama, Uchizuma, Shishikui, and Niyodo are the best choices; however, they are not free of local wave warriors.

The province of Fukushima was once famous for its top right-handers ridden in front of the nuclear station. Nowadays, it is a radioactive surfing cemetery, where surfers won’t surf and human beings won’t live.

If you are planning a surfing trip to Japan – the Land of the Rising Sun, you should do it during spring, between April and May. Remember that local surf shops are so expensive and trains are the best way of traveling from spot to spot there.

The 2020 Summer Olympics will take place between 24th July and 9th August, in Tokyo. Because surfing is very popular in the country, so it would be nice to have surfing as an Olympic sport, in a high-tech artificial wave pool of Japan.