Two-time ISA World Masters surfing champion and former ASP World Championship Tour competitor, Heather Clark (Port Shepstone), is set to defend her ISA Women’s Masters (O/35) title at the 2011 El Salvador ISA World Masters Surfing Championships, which have been delayed due to torrential rain over the past seven days leading to the country’s President declaring a State of Emergency. Photo: Supplied

A State of Emergency declared by the President of El Salvador due to torrential rain over the past seven days has delayed the start of the 2011 El Salvador ISA World Masters Surfing Championships which was scheduled to get underway yesterday (Sunday) in the Central American country.

South Africa’s Heather Clark (Port Shepstone) is due to defend her Women’s Masters (O/35) title, which she has won at the past two championships.

The event will now begin tomorrow and today the 124 competitors plus their management teams and supporters from 21 countries will be gathering at the event site in La Libertad, where the country’s most famous surf break of Punta Roca is situated, to complete a beach cleanup and offer assistance to the locals, many of whom have had to evacuate their homes.

The South African team, winners of the team Gold medal at the 2007 and 2009 editions of the event and runners-up to Australia in Panama last year, settled into their comfortable accommodation in La Libertad late last week.

Despite the strong onshore winds and incessant rain that has turned the ocean chocolate brown, team spirit is high and they have been the first in water every morning getting practice in the long right-breaking waves.

The 2011 El Salvador ISA World Masters Surfing Championships is the fourth edition of the event which started in Puerto Rico in 2007. The event was not held in 2008 and returned in 2009 in Peru before Panama hosted the event last year. This year it features the largest entry to date with teams from the USA and Hawaii entering for the first time.

The countries taking part include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Hawaii, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, USA and Venezuela.

The event uses a double-elimination format that sees the top two in each four-person heat progress to the next round of the ‘qualifiers’ stream while those finishing outside the top two drop into the cutthroat ‘repecharge’ rounds where anything other than a top two placing in a subsequent heat results in elimination from the event.

At stake are individual gold, silver, bronze and copper medals for the top four finishers in each division with the same medal spread for the top four nations, whose team totals are made up of the accumulated points of all its members.

All the action from the event, including live webcasts, daily videos, photos and contest news in both English and Spanish can be found at the El Salvador ISA WMSC website. Event updates are also available through the ISA Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

The SA Team’s preparations and attendance at the 2011 ISA World Masters Championships is made possible thanks to a R150 000 grant from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) and a grant from Sport and Recreation SA. Team kit has been provided by Quiksilver South Africa.