The world’s best surfers will be competing for national pride, gold medals, and Olympic qualification at the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games (WSG), held May 30 - June 7.
Here are ten things you should know about the competition:
1. Olympic Dreams
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 at Paris 2024. After a monumental decision at Rio 2016 led to the hugely successful debut of surfing at Tokyo 2020, Teahupo’o, Tahiti is set to deliver an even bigger and better show in 2024.
Four men and four women will directly qualify for Paris 2024 through the 2023 WSG. Specifically, the highest-ranking eligible man and woman from each of four continents - Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania - will clinch their Olympic slots.
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 winners of that event will clinch the Olympic slots for their continent.
Learn more about the Paris 2024 qualification process here.
2. ISA Gold Medalists, Tokyo 2020 Olympians, and WSL Champions to Compete
This year’s WSG features a who’s who of the absolute best surfers in the world.
- 8 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).
- 4 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. Where to Watch
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 pertaining to the competition.
4. Record Participation
297 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.
5. The History
Originally named the International Surfing Federation World Championships, the World Surfing Games crowned the first 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 of the globe.
The World Surfing Games is the ISA’s flagship open championship event, having served as the first Olympic qualifying events in 2019 in Miyazaki, Japan and in 2021 in Surf City El Salvador.
Past ISA World Surfing Games Champions include Olympic gold medalist Italo Ferreira (BRA), Olympic silver medalist Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Chelsea Hedges (AUS), Jordy Smith (RSA), Courtney Conlogue (USA), and Sofía Mulánovich (PER).
El Sunzal / Photo: Pablo Franco
6. Gender Equality
In 2023, a record 132 women (44% of competitors) will compete and represent their nations.
In an effort to promote gender equality in surfing and promote women participation, the ISA adjusted its competition format in 2017 to offer equal competition slots for men and women across its 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 of the globe.
7. New Nations
Five new nations will be represented for the very first time, bringing the total nations to a massive new record of 64.
The ISA is thrilled to welcome Czech Republic, India, Latvia, Mauritius, and Trinidad and Tobago to their first WSG.
May 30: Opening Ceremony, Day 1 of Competition
May 31 - June 6: Competition Days
June 7: Finals Day, Closing Ceremony
The ISA will be posting 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 #ISAsurfing, and #SurfCity
Facebook: International Surfing Association
10. The ISA and El Salvador
This will be the fifth major ISA event Surf City El Salvador has hosted in the past five years and the second time they have hosted the WSG. Surf City El Salvador initially hosted the 2019 World SUP and Paddleboard World Championship. The success of that event was followed up by the 2021 ISA WSG, the 2022 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship and the recently completed 2023 ISA World Longboard Championship.
The 2023 WSG will take place 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.