An Interview With Anna Paula Castillo
In less than two weeks, Ecuador will become the place to be for the best surfers under the age of 18, who will take on the perfect left-hand waves of Salinas to compete in the VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship 2014 (WJSC).
The VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship 2014 is one of the best surfing events in the world for young men and women under the age of 18 and will feature the participation of 300 competitors from thirty different countries from around the globe; the pinnacle of any young surfer’s career.
The championship is an “Olympic style” event and the competitors will compete for medals as a team, with individual divisions for Men and Women.
Anna Paula Castillo, of Acapulco, Guerrero, is one of the surfers selected to compete and will have the honor of representing Mexico in this competition.
Tell us about your first experience with surfing... How old were you and how did you start surfing?
Anna Paula: I was already doing SUP in the bay of Acapulco with my mom for a longtime, but since I was a kid, I had always wanted to surf. Finally, my friend Alexis taught me and that’s how I first learned, at the age of 14 at Playa Bonfil.
Where did you start surfing?
AP: I started in Sea Garden with Fernando, “El Anafre”. He taught me everything I know and I’m very grateful to him because he’s always supported me in everything and has been a great coach. I also learned a lot by surfing at the Princess dock and at Playa Bonfil.
You started competing a couple of years ago, what do you think is the main thing you learned about competing? Do you see yourself continuing to compete in the future? In other words, do you view surfing as a lifestyle?
AP: The main things I’ve learned about competing is to have fun, keep improving each time, gain more confidence and to never give up.
Surfing is definitely a lifestyle for me and I’m going to try to go as far as I can go with it. I plan to keep surfing until I’m an old lady and can’t do it anymore. [Laughs]
How many contests have you competed in and how did they go? And, how did you get to be a national selection to compete in the World Surfing Games this year?
AP: I’ve competed in various contests, starting in 2012 with the State tournament, where I won second place. Later, I placed first at the Torneo Unviersitario Bonfil and that same year I got second place at the Revolcadero Historico.
I became a national selection thanks to my first-place win in 2013 at the state circuit that brought me to the 2013 National contest, where I placed second and received a spot to compete in Ecuador.
You’re not only a dedicated surfer, but a dedicated student as well, what do you think is the importance of studying and going to school? And, how are you able to do both things without falling behind?
AP: I try to give both things equal importance, although sometimes the urge to surf overpowers the urge to go to school. But I always manage to stay on top of my schoolwork and I try to get good grades.
I go to the beach early in the morning and surf before school. Sometimes I go in the evenings and never miss a weekend. I train inside and outside of the water, especially since I’m training for the World Surfing Games right now. I’m going to start jogging at the beach and have already started Cross Fit training.
How important is having the support of your family during all of this?
AP: For me, having my family’s support is very important. It makes me feel good to know that I can count on them, especially my mom, who’s always with me, supporting me and encouraging me in everything.
What about other surfers, have they supported you? Do you feel like there’s a united surfing community in Acapulco?
AP: For sure, everyone has always supported me and helped me to improve my surfing with tips and motivation. I do think that the surfers in Acapulco are very close and there’s always a good vibe, inside and outside of the water.
Surfing has grown a lot in Guerrero and the international surfing events that have taken place in Acapulco have brought more pro surfers and media to our beaches, do you think that this has encouraged young surfers like you?
Yes and I think it’s great. It motivates us to have people recognizing our beaches as good places to surf.
A lot of professional surfers from around the world come here and that motivates you to keep improving. We can also watch what they do and learn from them, as well as share the waves, which gives us all good experiences and helps us improve. It also allows us to meet surfers from other states and we get to see what level they’re at.
What positive aspects has surfing brought to your life?
AP: My life revolves around surfing. It’s what makes me happy and the best part is that I can share it with my family and friends.
There’s a lot of new talent in Guerrero, who are some of your favorite surfers? Do you feel like the standard has improved, and what do you think is still missing to keep improving? Also, what’s your opinion about projects like the surf clinics, Surfing Acapulco, organized by Joe Estrada? Are you learning new things?
AP: Yes, it’s greatly improved the standard here in Acapulco and more so with the clinics organized by Joe. They help us all to learn how to compete and improve our technique. There are a lot of new talented surfers in Acapulco, some of my favorites are Marcos David “La Charrita”, Chelo Trujillo and Luis Rey (also a national selection). There’s a lot of new talent that is coming in strong with the new generations of surfers.
Where’s your favorite place to surf?
AP: Bonfil and Rio Nexpa
Last year, you were at the U.S. Open for a surf camp. Tell us a little about that experience... Did you get to meet any of your favorite surfers?
AP: The camp was an amazing experience; I met surfers from all over the world—Hawaii, Japan, Spain and various parts of the U.S. We surfed all day and they taught us a lot of techniques to improve our surfing; we did yoga, they taught us how to eat healthy and we learned various training techniques. I loved it and hope to go again this year.
At the end of the camp, I got to see the final days of the U.S. Open and even though it was packed, I was still able to meet some of my favorite surfers.
Who are your favorite women surfers?
AP: Carissa Moore and Dax McGill
And finally, are you ready for Ecuador? Excited? What are your expectations for this experience?
AP: I’m super excited and happy for this great experience. I’ve been doing a lot to prepare myself and I hope to produce good results, proudly representing Mexico and Acapulco. I’m also looking forward to learning new things, gaining more confidence and improving more overall.
o learn more about the World Surfing Games, visit the event’s official website: www.isawjsc.com, where you’ll find photos, videos and more. The live-stream will begin on Saturday, April 5th with the Opening Ceremony. The competition begins on Sunday, April 6th and the Closing Ceremony will be held on Sunday, April 13th.