10 Things To Know About The 2023 ISA World Surfing Games

Surf City: 10 Things To Know About The 2023 ISA World Surfing Games

The world's best surfers will compete for national pride, gold medals, and Olympic qualification at the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games, which begins today.

On July 27, 2021, history was made in Tsurigasaki Beach – 40 miles outside Tokyo on the Japanese coastline. Italo Ferreira, who learned to surf on a styrofoam cooler lid in Baía Formosa, Brazil, became the first-ever surfing Olympic gold medalist.

It was a moment 100 years in the making.

The dream of Olympic Surfing started with Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic Gold Medalist in swimming and native Hawaiian known as the father of modern Surfing.

Duke first expressed his dream at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm to one day see Surfing included in the Games.

On August 3, 2016, at the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro, the Duke’s dream came true as the IOC voted to include Surfing as one of five new sports in the Sports Program for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

A sport so often overlooked, playing second fiddle to mainstream big-hitters such as basketball, football, and soccer, finally had its moment in the spotlight.

Since its introduction into the Olympics in 2021, Surfing’s popularity has soared, with media giants like Netflix, ESPN, and Apple TV jumping on the bandwagon and showcasing Surfing around the globe.

Once the dust settled, 1976 World Champion Peter Townend, now President of The ActivEmpire, summed up the significance: “The social media engagement alone of fans and followers was 1.6 billion. So the global exposure to Surfing and its culture has been monumental.”

The biggest beneficiary of the Olympic effect is the International Surfing Association (ISA), with the 2023 edition kicking off today across the La Bocana and El Sunzal waves at Surf City in El Salvador.

Ahead of the start of the competition, Muscle and Health point out ten things you should know about the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games.

1. A Path to the Olympics

Thanks to over 20 years of hard work and dedication from the ISA, led by its President, Fernando Aguerre, Surfing is now headed into its second Olympic Games in Paris 2024. 

Teahupo’o, Tahiti, is set to deliver an even bigger and better show in 2024 than the inaugural showpiece in Japan.

Competitors have the opportunity to seal their place in the 2024 Paris Olympics – albeit the Surfing competition will take place in Tahiti due to France’s landlocked nature – with the highest-ranked eligible man and woman from each of Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania. 

Olympic qualification slots for the Americas, one for men and one for women will be decided via the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games. The top five ranking eligible men and top five ranking eligible women representing the Americas at the WSG will qualify for Santiago 2023, and the event winners will clinch the Olympic slots for their continent.

2. Cream of the crop

This year’s WSG features a who’s who of the absolute best surfers in the world. Eight former ISA gold medalists, including defending champion Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and three-time winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS).

28 of the 40 Olympians who competed in Tokyo 2020, including gold medalist Carissa Moore (USA), silver medalist Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and bronze medalist Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN).

Four WSL Champions – five-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (USA), three-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA), two-time WSL Champion John-John Florence (USA) and 2022 WSL Champion Filipe Toledo (BRA).

3. Steeped in history

Originally named the International Surfing Federation World Championships, the World Surfing Games crowned the first World Surfing World Champions in Manly Beach, Australia, in 1964.

The WSG has been crowning champions ever since, with competitions being held on all five continents globally.

2023 ISA World Surfing Games

The World Surfing Games is the ISA’s flagship open championship event, serving as the first Olympic qualifying event in 2019 in Miyazaki, Japan and in 2021 in Surf City, El Salvador.  

4. New kids on the block

Five new nations will be represented for the first time, bringing the total number of countries to a massive new record of 64.

The ISA welcomes the Czech Republic, India, Latvia, Mauritius, and Trinidad and Tobago to their first WSG.

5. World-class waves

The 2023 WSG will occur across two world-class waves in El Salvador, La Bocana and El Sunzal.

La Bocana is a cobble-stone bottom river mouth that features multiple peaks. The waves break left and right, providing powerful, steep sections for high-performance Surfing.

El Sunzal is a long, right-hand point break due west of La Bocana that runs for hundreds of yards along the coast. The beach is where Surfing was practiced for the first time in El Salvador when the first North American surfers arrived in the late sixties looking for the perfect wave.

6. Equal opportunity

In 2023, 132 women (44% of competitors) will compete and represent their nations.

To promote gender equality in Surfing and promote women’s participation, the ISA adjusted its competition format in 2017 to offer equal competition slots for men and women across its World Championship Series.

World Championship Series.

Since the 2018 edition, the WSG has broken the record for female participation each year, attesting to the growth of women’s Surfing on all continents globally.

7. Record-breaking competitors

Two hundred ninety-seven athletes, representing a groundbreaking 64 nations, will gather to compete for the coveted Team Gold medals, surpassing the previous record set in 2019 in Miyazaki.

Current Team World Champions, Team USA, are back to defend their title with a lineup that includes Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore and two-time WSL Champion John John Florence.

8. How to watch the ISA World Surfing Games 2023

The live webcast will be streamed on www.isasurf.org from May 30 – June 7. Visit our website for results, team rosters, photos, videos, and news about the competition.

9. Never miss a moment

The ISA will post live updates, photos and videos from the competition on social media. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Don’t forget to use the official hashtags #ISAworlds, and #SurfCity

Facebook: International Surfing Association

Instagram: @ISAsurfing

Twitter: @ISAsurfing

YouTube: @ISAsurfing

Tiktok: @isasurfing

10. Schedule 

May 30: Opening Ceremony, Day 1 of Competition

May 31 – June 6: Competition Days

June 7: Finals Day, Closing Ceremony

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