Don't call any of the recent wins at the ISA Masters events comebacks. These men and women never went anywhere. They're just all deciding that the ISA is a great path to continue their careers. In eight days of quality surf in Montanita, Equador, these elder statesmen battled to world titles.
How popular have the ISA Masters become? Just check out some of this year's names: Greg Emslie, Sunny Garcia, Kalani Robb, Layne Beachley, Rochelle Ballard, Mike Latronic. This isn't some obscure little event. It wasn't long ago that these athletes were on top of the surf world. You've even got a handful of former world champs in there.
Each of the last few years, ISA president Fernando Aguerre has bought the Masters to some up-and-coming Latin American surf town, promoting that region to the world, while letting these elder statesmen and women do what they love to do. There might not be prize money, but as more and more marquis surfers keep showing up, some old rivarlries are drawn out and patriotism reigns supreme.
Layne Beachley and Sunny Garcia, both legends who've won ASP world titles, added another notch to their belts this weekend. Beachley, the ISA Vice President, won the ISA Women's Masters, while Garcia won the Grand Masters and surfing "down" a division he also took copper in the Masters.
Every division final was held on Sunday, in six-foot rights. The wind came onshore in the afternoon, but light enough to keep those walls rippable. Beachley was in form throughout the event with her usual poise. The final was close, however, and she only beat South African Heather Clark by .10 of a point.
For his part in it, Garcia had the whole field combed for most of the Grand Masters final, relying on heavy-footed power surfing. A long lull in the middle of the heat pretty much sealed the deal. Even a flurry of waves at the end wasn't enough for anyone to dig themselves out of the hole they were in.
In what is the most performance-oriented division, Greg Emlie took out the Masters final with two scorching rights. Locking in a 9.83 and 9.63 he edged out Kalani Robb. Surfing for Venezula, Magnum Martinez finished with the bronze, and as mentioned, Garcia took the copper.
Hawaii's Mike Latronic won the Kahuna division while South Africa's Chris Knutsen took the Grand Kahunas (over 50) for his forth ISA World Championship. And in the end, Hawaii had the most points to win its second ISA World Masters team trophy in a row.
"Ecuador is an incredible surfing destination," said Aguerre, "We plan to come back next year with another ISA world championship."
2013 ISA World Masters Championships Results
Gold: Greg Emslie (ZAF)
Silver: Kalani Robb (HAW)
Bronze: Magnum Martinez (VEN)
Copper: Sunny Garcia (HAW)
Gold: Layne Beachley (AUS)
Silver: Heather Clark (ZAF)
Bronze: Andrea Lopes (BRA)
Copper: Rochelle Ballard (HAW)
Gold: Sunny Garcia (HAW)
Silver: Marcelo Alves (BRA)
Bronze: Love Hodel (HAW)
Copper: Dean Randazzo (USA)
Gold: Mike Latronic (HAW)
Silver: Andre Malherbe (ZAF)
Bronze: Jojo de Olivenca (BRA)
Copper: Ricky Schaffer (USA)
Gold: Chris Knutsen (ZAF)
Silver: Craig Schieber (CRC)
Bronze: Allen Sarlo (USA)
Copper: Eric Graciet (FRA)