Peru International Surfing Championships


Annual surfing competition held in Lima, Peru, from 1956 to 1974, usually in February or March; the second international contest, following the Makaha International, and for many years one of the sport's biggest and most prestigious events.

The Peru International Surfing Championships were conceived, developed, and underwritten by Club Waikiki, the upscale Lima beachfront surfing association, and directed by club member Carlos Rey y Lama. The 1956 debut event was little more than a friendly scrimmage between Club Waikiki and the San Onofre Surfing Club of California; it was held at Kon Tiki, and won by future International Surfing Federation president Eduardo Arena. For the 1957 event, the Peruvians competed against a team of Hawaiian surfers. A small group of Californians attended the third edition of the contest in 1961, won by Surfer magazine founder John Severson.

While the Makaha International contest, already several years old, remained the unofficial world championships, the 1962 Peru International—attended by surfers from California, Hawaii, Australia, France, and Peru—represented, as Severson wrote, "the first successful event where teams from most of the leading surfing areas of the world were represented." The contest also pointed out the need for an international set of surfing competition rules, as the Peruvians judged solely on speed, wave height, and length of ride instead of maneuvers and form; changes were made in 1964.

Two milestone Peru International events took place before decade's end: the 1965 contest doubled as the World Surfing Championships (won by Lima surfer Felipe Pomer and Joyce Hoffman of California), while the 1969 contest was the first professional surfing event outside of America (winner Mike Doyle of California earned $1,000). The site of the big-wave portion of the Peru International was changed to nearby Punta Rocas in 1965.

Divisions and events multiplied quickly in the Peru International, and by 1964 the weeklong event produced winners in Kon-Tiki (big surf), Waikiki Shorebreak (hotdogging), Waikiki First Break (mid-size), Women's Hotdogging, Tandem Surfing, and nine different paddling races. An overall champion was declared in the early versions of the contest, but the Kon Tiki winner has over the years come to be synonymous with the Peru International winner.

The Peruvians meanwhile became famous throughout surfdom for throwing the best surf parties, with local surfers—"bored rich kids, outrageous partiers," as Doyle later described them—insisting that their visitors fight bulls, race cars, drink endless rounds of pisco sours, and visit Lima's high-end brothels.

After Peruvian Surfing Federation replaced Club Waikiki as the overseer for the Peru International in 1973, the contest suffered an immediate drop in both prestige and attendance, and in 1975 the event was canceled. A series of international surfing contests held in Lima from 1979 to 2000, under different titles, are sometimes grouped together with the Peru International. Kon-Tiki winners of the Peru International are as follows:

1956: Eduardo Arena

1957: Conrad Canha

1961: John Severson

1962: Felipe Pomer

1963: Paul Strauch

1964: Fred Hemmings

1965: Felipe Pomer

1966: Felipe Pomer

1967: Corky Carroll

1968: Joey Cabell

1969: Mike Doyle

1970: Joey Cabell

1971: Sergio Barreda

1972: (unknown)

1973: Sergio Barreda

1974: Jeff Hakman