The 2006 Lost Energy ISA World Surfing Games concluded yesterday with one of the closest final point scores in the Games history with team Australia winning the World Champion title with a total point score of 15,848. Brazil took the silver medal with a total of 15,123 followed by USA winning the bronze with 14,505 points and South Africa garnering the bronze with 13,346. The nine day event brought together 33 countries and over 300 surfers, some who came with full teams and others were proud to participate on behalf of their respective countries alone.

The morning of the Finals was met with fog hovering over the Huntington Beach break, but it quickly burned off to reveal semiglassy conditions with hest high to overhead waves. The beach was teeming with national spirit as all the countries reconvened waving their team flags and cheering for the final countries still in the race for the pursuit for gold.

The Final of Men’s Bodyboarding wrapped up a week of wild maneuvers and an impressive showing from all competing countries. Manuel Centeno and Hugo Pinheiro of Portugal, whose team standing came in at 7th were awarded the gold and silver medal, followed by Andrew Lester of Australia taking bronze, and Alvaro Pardon of Spain winning the copper. “This is so important for us to be on the same level as everyone else," Centeno beamed. The entire Portugal team met the boarders on the beach and broke into the national anthem after the heat.

In the Women’s Open, Julia Christian - former ISA Junior World Champion silver medalist and USA team member - took the gold over Brazil’s Jacqueline Silva with just a .10 point difference. “I have competed against Jackie on the WCT before, and it is always very close and exciting because she is a great surfer. This was such a special event for me because typically I compete for myself on tour but here it’s for my country," remarked Christian. The heat was filled with a dramatic wave by wave battle resulting in Christian narrowly grasping the gold. Rosanne Hodge of South Africa earned a bronze, and Courtney Conlogue, the youngest surfer in the competition won copper.

Womens Body boarding matched France’s Heloise Bourroux against Natasha Sagardia of Puerto Rico, Neymara Carvalho of Brazil and Kira Llewellyn of Australia. After posting two strong scores of 6.83 and 5.60 it was Llewellyn that earned the gold after advancing through the Repercharge rounds, Carvalho silver, Sagardia bronze and Bourroux copper.

There was quite an impressive resume behind all of the competitors in the Longboard final. Six‐time South African champion Matthew Moir defeated Harley Ingleby of Australia, Benjamin Skinner of UK and Bonga Perkins of Hawaii when he surfed a flawless heat hanging ten, cross stepping the board and kicking in big bottoms for the gold medal. “This is my first time on the team and I am so stoked. I was stuck in the start of the heat but I really focused for this event, mixing traditional noseriding with modern day floaters and air and pushed through. I am just so honored to be here and win," said an elated Moir. Benjamin Skinner of Great Britain impressed judges all week and was awarded the silver medal, Harley Ingleby bronze, and Bonga Perkins copper.

In the climatic end of the Men’s Open Final it was Jordy Smith of Cape Town, South Africa that punctuated his week of tremendous surfing; pulling wild aerials and superman maneuvers to earn the gold medal. Smith, 2003 Junior World Champion was deemed a “force of nature" for his exceptional surfing amidst the event. Not since 1992 has a surfer that has gone to Repercharge come through the heats to be crowned the gold medal Champion. This opportunity is owed to the unique two round system of this event, which allows surfers to redeem themselves at several levels of the contest.

The medalists were followed by Australia’s Luke Stedman winning the silver medal, Pat O’Connell of USA winning bronze and Armando Daltro of Brazil earning copper. “This means the world to me. It was tough to make it through the whole contest, but I did what I had to do to get to the final and win it. I am really happy," said a smiling Smith.

The day also included the final for the ISA Nations Cup tag team event, a unique ISA tradition where the top eight countries compete for first through fourth place medals. Although the tag team has no bearing on the championships results, it is a fun aside to the contest and saw Australia taking gold, Brazil silver, South Africa bronze and Costa Rica copper.

The Awards Ceremony was an emotional ending to a great week of surfing. Special medals were given to the entire judging staff, as well as the newly elected Vice Presidents of the ISA. Additionally Pirata, a figure of inspiration for all surfers was presented an award for his great contributions to the sport and his tireless commitment despite his disability. Aguerre closed the highly lauded event by saying: “Remember in life the only failure is when you give up on your dreams, everything else is a victory. Please remember don’t give up on surfing."

The ISA will be hosting the 2008 ISA World Surfing Games in Portugal. For complete competition results, please visit: www.isasurf.org.