Rising surf stars shine at Malta contest
The Malta India contest at the fabled spot in Isabela featured surfers under 21 years of age from Venezuela, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and the mainland U.S. vying for $10,000 in prize money.
The first day featured rising world talent Noemar Mcnogle, the bronze medalist in the 2012 ISA Junior World games; Derek Gomez, the top junior from Venezuela; and Stevie Pitmann, from the mainland U.S. Hector Santamaria, who had been tearing up the U.S. professional circuit as a team rider for Vans, is back home in Puerto Rico participating in the event.
Members of Puerto Rico’s national junior surfing team Marley Puglielli, Mauro Diaz, Christian Castillo, Brian Laide, Rolando Montes and Paolo Schoene entered the event with the experience of having participated in the past two ISA World Championships in Peru and Panama.
Women competing in the event include Puerto Rico’s Gabriela Rubi and Kelly Laide.
“This is a great event that will add to the island’s prestige as we continue to establish our reputation as a top surfing destination in the world,” said Puerto Rico Surfing Federation President Ernie Alvarez, who is about to embark on a trip to Peru to lobby ISA’s top brass to bring a world championship event to Puerto Rico in 2014.
Carlos Torres, one of the rising stars from the ranks of Puerto Rico’s youth surfers, is a member of the Malta India team that includes Ricardo Delgado and Roger Torres.
Those young guns are coached by Otto Flores, a renowned professional surfer from Puerto Rico, who has graced the covers of such international magazines as Surfer and Transworld Surf.
“We want to nurture and grow the future of the sport in Puerto Rico, where there is so much talent,” said Flores just prior to the conclusion of the first day of competition. “So we want to focus on the youth and get them involved at a younger age to help them develop in the sport.”
The event is part of a concerted effort by Malta India to help push youth sports in Puerto Rico.
“We will be working hand in hand, closely with everything involving youth sports,” said Malta India Brand Manager José Muñoz who sees surfing as a natural for youth development. “We want Malta India to be synonymous with youth sports in Puerto Rico, to help keep our youth off the streets and involve them healthy activities.”
The two-day contest comes to a close Sunday with the last four heats of the men’s quarter finals, semis and finals and women’s semifinals and finals.