June 19, 2021 #ChileDiverse #Tourism and Sport.

Chile: surfing country in the voice of its protagonists

Accessibility settings

This year will be the debut of surfing in the Olympic Games, and Chile will have a representative of this discipline: Manuel Selman. The geographical characteristics of our country, added to the talent of its athletes, make Chile an unparalleled place for the development of this sport.

Pichilemu, in the O'Higgins region, is known as the national capital of surfing. But it is difficult to talk about a single place when it comes to surfing. The former El Alacrán Island (El Gringo wave) in Arica is the only place in the country where a date of the World Champion Tour has been held, and there are also great spots in Iquique (Tarapacá region), Viña del Mar (Valparaíso region), Totoralillo (Coquimbo region), Motu Hava in the cove of Hanga Roa (Rapa Nui), Curanipe (Maule region) and Chiloé.

"Our long coastline is rich and varied in different types of waves," says the president of the Chilean Surfing Federation, Matías Álvarez. "In Chile you can practice in all kinds of conditions and we receive constant waves throughout the year. To this we add that surfing is a sport open to all ages, gender and social conditions. The large number of beaches allows its practice without so much saturation. For the same reason we also enjoy constant foreign visitors that influence the athletes' development", he assures.

According to figures from the Chilean Surfing Federation, there are 15,000 surfers and 37 clubs in Chile, and the sport has become so strong at the national level that the Chilean team came in eighth place in the world at the ISA World Surfing Games, held in El Salvador in May and June, with great representatives such as Estela López, Lorena Fica and Manuel Selman, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, in the Olympic debut of this discipline.

On World Surfing Day, some of the main protagonists of this sport at the national level tell us what motivates them and what characteristics make Chile a surfing country.

Lorena Fica

She is a five-time national surfing champion and South American vice-champion in the World Surf League. She is the best Chilean according to the Qualifying Series ranking of the World Surfing League, and was part of the Chilean team that participated in the ISA World Surfing Games in El Tunco beach, El Salvador this month.

"What drove me to become a surfer is the contact with the sea, I have a very good affinity with it. I really liked sports, and surfing helped guide me on my path from a very young age. What I enjoy most is the fact of freeing yourself, letting yourself flow through a sport, expressing yourself and at the same time meeting people, creating your circle, a community, and being all equal in the water," she says.

The ariqueña assures that "Chile is a country recognized worldwide for its surfing, for its waves, for its perfect lefts and its giant waves, as well as for its tubular waves. In the north it stands out for its very tubular waves, then in the south for its perfect lefts, and in both places (north and south), giant ocean waves that exceed 5 meters in height".

Cristián Merello

Placed in the world top 10 of the Big Wave Tour 2015-2016, the big wave surfer, a native of Pichilemu (O'Higgins region), says that he was always attracted to surfing, watching the surfers who came from all over the world to his mother's hotel in Pichilemu, to practice on its beaches. "In the first session at age 11 I fell in love with surfing and to this day I have not gotten off the board. To be able to surf a big wave that has traveled many kilometers, and the adrenaline that you feel is something impressive".

"We are a country of perfect big waves, which compare to the best in the world, such as Hawaii, Portugal, Mexico. Our country has a similar potential. We are a surfing country," he says.

Rafaella Montesi

The surfer Rafaella Montesi, at her short 14 years old, already harvests great triumphs: U12 champion in the South American Children's Surfing Championship in Colombia (2019) and U14 bronze medal in the South American Surfing Championship in Colombia (2020).

"I always liked to play sports. When I was 3 years old I learned to ski and it was the sport we did as a family with my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Then I switched from skiing to snowboarding and I loved it and from there my curiosity for board sports began. Being in contact with the sea and outdoors is the best feeling in the world," he says.

"The fact that we are a coastal country and that we have extensive sea coasts with many beaches with different waves and different weather makes Chile a country to promote tourism through surfing. There are huge waves like in Pichilemu and Arica where world championships have already been held."

Estela Lopez

The 15-year-old athlete, based in Navidad (O'Higgins region) was also part of the Chilean team that participated in the ISA World Surfing Games in El Salvador, and was placed among the 21 best, just steps away from qualifying for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. "It is one of the most difficult world championships in history, so I was going to give my best without expecting any result, to arrive as best as possible, and to have placed 21st with the level that there was and the number of women, was incredible, so I was very happy and eager to continue with everything to achieve better results," she says.

For her, having a Chilean qualified for the Olympics will be a great springboard for the sport. "It's definitely going to help Chilean surfing too much. Now that we have a Chilean surfer in the Olympic Games, it will clearly help everyone to support the sport more in Chile (...) It will open many doors for those who come after us," she says.

Other related news
December 07, 2022 #Tourism and Sport .
November 01, 2021 #ChileDiverse #Tourism & Sports
October 29, 2021 #ChileDiverse #ChileSustainable #Tourism and Sport .
September 27, 2021 #ChileDiverse #Tourism & Sports


Image of Chile