Team New Zealand performs the traditional "haka" dance. Photo courtesy ISA.

Team New Zealand performs the traditional "haka" dance. Photo courtesy ISA.

The Billabong ISA World Surfing Games Start With A Huge Parade In Front Of Lima's Presidential Palace

Punta Hermosa, Peru
October 19, 2011
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A colorful Opening Ceremony was held in Lima's Plaza de Armas to kick off the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games presented by Amarok of Volkswagen.

With flags flying and crowds cheering, more than 300 team surfers and officials from 31 nations around the globe paraded around the historic Plaza de Armas in front of the Presidential Palace in Lima.

When the entire entourage had gathered at the stage in front of the mayor's office, the traditional Sands of the World Ceremony began. As teams brought sand from their country's beaches up to the podium, they mixed them all together in a glass bowl. The perennial ritual signifies the union of nations, credos and races through surfing and the Olympic spirit this event embraces.

Team Jamaica...yeah mon! Photo courtesy ISA.

Team Jamaica...yeah mon! Photo courtesy ISA.

The presence of Eduardo Arena, Founder of International Surfing Federation (previous name of ISA) and Felipe Pomar, 1965 World Surfing Champion, marked a historical moment: the second time an Open World Championship has been held in Peru.

"It is an honor to be here, between so many champions, and it is a thrill to return to Peru. I wish you all the best of the luck," said the legendary Pomar of Peru.

In addition to Arena and Pomar, Fernando Aguerre, President of International Surfing Association (ISA); Marco Antonio Parra, Mayor of Lima; Paul Naude, CEO of Billabong USA; Daisy Cereceda, representing the Peruvian Institute of the Sport, Guillermo González and Karín Sierralta, President and Executive Director of the Peruvian Surfing Federation, respectively, all spoke at the historic occasion.

Fernando Aguerre began his speech reading words from the President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, dedicated especially for the opening of the event, “This week more than 200 of surfing's best talents will compete in the eight day tournament. Fervent fans support them. I wish the best of luck to the organizers and the athletes."

"These are like the Olympics of surfing," continued Aguere, "And you are the United Nations of our dear sport. Although in eight days, only a few of you will take home medals, today and forever you are all winners, and by carrying the honor of representing your country."

Karín Sierralta, principal Peruvian organizer of this event said: “Fifteen years ago I traveled to my first World Games and met many friends that I still support today. Since then, I dreamed of bringing a world contest to Peru and today, finally, one of my dreams has been fulfilled."

Finally came the official announcement by the ISA President: "It's my pleasure and greatest honor to declare these Billabong ISA World Surfing Games officially open!" exclaimed Aguerre to a cheering crowd.

As the ceremony came to an end, all athletes, officials and coaches arrived to the Presidential Palace. Peruvian President, Alan García, invited them to this historical gathering that remarks the relevance and importance of the sport of surfing nowadays, on a local and global level.

The Minister of Tourism and External Commerce, Eduardo Ferreyros on behalf of the President, welcomed Aguerre, along with all the international delegations. The ISA President took advantage of the opportunity to present to the President of Peru a traditional Hawaiian gift and an invitation to attend the Medal Ceremony on the 27th of October.

Eight days of competition begin Wednesday with a forecast of big surf at Senoritas and Caballeros in Punta Hermosa. On October 27th history will be written once again with the crowning of new world champions.