The Santiago 2023 Pan American Games culminated in a historic day of competition with an incredible showing for Surfing in its second appearance in the Games. Massive 10-15 foot surf, easily four-to-five times overhead, poured into Punta de Lobos, providing an impressive show for the medalists to be decided in the women’s and men’s divisions of each of the four surfing disciplines; Shortboard, Longboard, SUP Surfing and SUP Racing. The swell was amongst the biggest seen in the ISA’s history. 88 athletes representing 16 countries delivered amazing performances over the course of the event, with consistently large swell pumping into Punta de Lobos for the entire contest period. The 24 available medals were won by athletes from 9 different nations. Peru took the overall rankings lead with 6 medals, 3 of which were gold.
World Champions Gomez and Schweitzer share SUP Surfing gold medal wins
Two names familiar in both big-wave and stand up paddle circles claimed gold in SUP Surfing. Defending champion and 2015 ISA World Champion Isabella Gomez(COL) went back-to-back, while 2016 ISA World Champion Zane Schweitzer won the men’s SUP Surfing gold medal in his first Pan American Games appearance, returning to the ocean for the event after two months out of the water due to the devastating fires at his home in Maui.
“I’ve been praying for my community back home this whole time,” Schweitzer said. “It’s been really hard to be here, but this win makes it all worthwhile. This type of venue is what SUP Surfing was made for. I’m so proud to be an ambassador for this sport.”
USA tops SUP Racing podium with wins for Appleby and Baxter
Two ISA World Champions representing the USA, Candice Appleby and Connor Baxter, claimed wins in the SUP Racing finals with significant leads over the rest of the field. Baxter backed up his Lima 2019 victory, while Appleby went one better than her Lima 2019 silver medal to earn the gold medal.
“I’m super grateful that I get to keep doing this,” Appleby said. “It’s so cool to see SUP Racing be a part of the Pan American Games, because I’m a surfer to the core. I mean, I grew up surfing my whole life. The roots of stand up paddling are surfing, so to have racing and SUP Surfing be a part of this event is pretty special.”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
“From the huge crowds celebrating Chile’s first Pan American surfing medal, to the phenomenal performances of surfers from throughout the Americas, to the mind-blowing waves of Punta de Lobos, this event has been a total success. The more that Surfing is a part of the Olympic Movement, the more valuable it proves itself to be.
“Each of the four surfing disciplines represented are so important in their own right and to be able to continue to celebrate them all together in such a prestigious event as the Pan American Games is a dream come true.”