Local Nicaragua Time:
July 7, 2012

Japan Making Its First Appearance at the Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship

Japan´s Masahisa Sakamoto will be hoping his national championship-winning talent will translate to a medal-winning performance in ISA competition in Nicaragua. Photo: Courtesy of NSA

Japan’s Masters Team Will Aim to Match the Recent Success of Its Junior Team

Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship
July 14 to 22, 2012
Colorado Beach at Hacienda Iguana, Nicaragua

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Since it began in 2007, the ISA World Masters Surfing Championships has experienced an increase in prestige, recognition and worldwide participation every year. For the first time in the five-year history of the event, an Asian country will be participating, with Japan sending a team to Colorado Beach at Hacienda Iguana, Nicaragua.

The first year of the event, 66 athletes from 12 nations participated. When competition begins at the 2012 Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship on July 14th, there will be 150 surfers from 27 nations, both ISA Masters records. All of these different cultures will be part of an historic event occurring along Nicaragua’s pristine coastline in world-class beachbreak conditions.

Though Japan is sending a team to the ISA World Masters for the first time, the country recently proved that it could be counted among the strongest surfing nations, finishing fifth at the 2012 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship at Playa Venao, Panama. The top eight teams at the event qualified to be invited to the second edition of the ISA China Cup at Riyue Bay, China in January 2013.

Japan will be sending a full Masters team of eight surfers to Nicaragua. Yoshio Ishida and Hiroki Watanabe will represent the country of the rising sun in the Men’s Masters (over-35) division. Ishida finished third in the Senior Division of the 2011 Nippon Surfing Association (NSA) All-Japan Surfing Championship. Watanabe will be seeking his second ISA medal in Nicaragua, after winning a Copper Medal in the Junior division of the ISA World Surfing Games in 1992 at Lacanau, France.

“I’m happy that I’ve got an opportunity to compete in an ISA event again after 20 years,” Watanabe said. “My home, Fukushima is still facing a difficult situation after the accident of the nuclear station damaged by the earthquake [in March 2011]. I’m excited to show my ability and to represent Fukushima surfers.”

In the Men’s Grand Masters (over-40) division, Azumi Hara and Yasunori Isobe will compete on behalf of Japan. Hara is a former runner-up in the Senior and Master divisions of the NSA Masters Surfing Championship, while Isobe is a former winner of the same event. Isobe also represented Japan at the 2010 ISA World Surfing Games at Punta Hermosa, Peru.

Japan will have Masahisa Sakamoto and Yoshihiro Nakamura in the Men’s Kahunas (over-45) division, both of whom are new to ISA competition, but proven winners. Both athletes have won their respective division in the NSA Masters Surfing Championships.

Keiichi Mitsuhashi in the Men’s Grand Kahunas (over-50) and Akiko Kiyonaga in the Women’s Masters (over-35) will fill out the roster. Mitsuhashi and Kiyonaga are both former Japanese national champions in their respective divisions.

The world´s best Masters surfers will compete in the world-class waves at Colorado Beach in Hacienda Iguana. Photo: NicaSurfing.com/ Matt Blevins

The caliber of athletes who will be competing in Nicaragua range from national champions and local legends to former professional surfers and Pipeline Masters. There’s a level of prestige and honor that comes with representing one’s country in competition – as athletes will be doing in the London Olympics – especially in one that will feature the best over-35-year-old surfers (in five divisions) from around the world. The athletes will be competing for individual medals, team medals and the perpetual Eduardo Arena Trophy, which will be awarded to the Gold Medal-winning team.

The Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship will begin on July 14 with the Opening Ceremony, Parade of Nations and Sands of the World Ceremony in Rivas, and competition at Colorado Beach at Hacienda Iguana will commence the following day.

Team Japan Roster

Men’s Masters
Yoshio Ishida
Hiroki Watanabe

Men’s Grand Masters
Azumi Hara
Yasunori Isobe

Men’s Kahunas
Masahisa Sakamoto
Yoshihiro Nakamura

Men’s Grand Kahunas
Keiichi Mitsuhashi

Women’s Masters
Akiko Kiyonaga

Team Officials/Supporters
Kimifumi Imoto
Hiroaki Watanabe

The Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship is made possible with the backing of the following sponsors: Nicaragua Tourism Institute, Gray Line, AmericanAirlines, Canal 13, Amnet, Hacienda Iguana, Taca, VOS TV, Municipalidad de Tola, Flor de Caña, INISER; the following cosponsors: Movistar, Dollar, Alamo, Comité Olimpico Nicaragüense, Hilton, Nuevo Diario, Guacalito, Condor, Servipro, Aqua Spa, CDNN canal 23, Nicasurfing; and the following supporters: Surfari Charters, Corona, Paso Pacifico, Renisa, Parmalat, Credomatic, Cruz Roja, Pantaleon, Canatur. The media partners are Pasión Xtrema, SurfersVillage and Surfos. The Official Forecaster for the event is Surfline.

About the International Surfing Association
The International Surfing Association (ISA) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. It was originally founded as the International Surfing Federation in 1964 and has been running the Open Division World Championship since 1964, the World Junior Surfing Championship since 1980, the World Masters Surfing Championship since 2007, the World Bodyboard Championship since 2011, and the Hainan Wanning Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival in China and the World Standup Paddle (SUP) and Paddleboard Championship beginning in 2012. The ISA also sanctions the World Kneeboard Titles and the World Tandem Surfing Championship.

ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 71 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro and re-elected seven times since. The ISA´s four Vice-Presidents are Alan Atkins (AUS), Karín Sierralta (PER), Debbie Beacham (USA) and Layne Beachley (AUS).

More on www.isasurf.org

About Gray Line Tours Nicaragua
Gray Line Tours is a leading tour operator in Nicaragua, and is affiliated with Gray Line Worldwide, which provides tourism services around the world. The company offers complete services in accommodation, transportation, tours, as well as the organization of congress and incentive travels (DMC). It offers quality and professional services, as well as personalized attention to its clients 24 hours a day.

Gray Line offers competitive rates and a wide range of products from nature and cultural packages to surfing and adventure programs. International surfing competitions in Nicaragua have been possible since 2010 thanks to Gray Line Nicaragua efforts.