Costa Rica Surfing – It didn’t take long for the Essential Costa Rica Open Pro (QS 3,000), taking place at Esterillos Este, to make it into the history books as the first WQS event to be stopped because of the alleged presence of crocodiles in the competition zone.
With four minutes to go in heat 8 of round 2, Newport Beach’s Tyler Gunter paddled in fast, scared because of having seen a croc in the lineup, organizers said.
“It was so crazy,” Gunter told Surfline. “I was sitting there, in between sets, and I saw this big thing swim by. It went under then came up five feet away and I looked at it in its eye. I was like, ‘holy crap, that’s a crocodile.’ I still wanted to win my heat but the thing popped up again. Then I went in, I didn’t care if I lost anymore.”
Also in the heat at the time were Facundo Arreyes, Charly Quivront and Tad McCardell. Arreyes, who won the heat, told Surfline he saw that something was going on but didn’t know what. Gunter attempted to alert his fellow competitors. But they didn’t realize what was happening until they got to shore.
Once officials figured out what was happening, they decided to put the event on hold for 20 minutes. Event director, former pro and Costa Rican legend, Diego Naranjo told Surfline that security is priority number one. “Three competitors from the last heat allegedly saw a croc in the competition zone, and since security is our main concern, we put the event on hold and sent the jetskis to scout the zone and try to scare the animal out of the place.”
He also pointed out that it’s normal for this kind of thing to happen in Costa Rica. “We know that crocs along Central America’s Pacific coast are a possibility — and it seems that that possibility took place today.”
The following heat was still in the water before organizers called it off, and Mexican Dylan Southworth was in the water. “I didn’t know it, maybe he was swimming between my legs,” he joked. “We were lucky he didn’t catch anybody this time.”
After nearly a half hour on hold, the contest continued without any other issues, though crocs are undoubtedly not far from many surfer’s minds.
Two months ago in Tamarindo, northern Costa Rica, a US Citizen lost part of his leg attacked by a crocodile.
By Pablo Zanocchi, From Surfline