Costa Rican aerialist Carlos Munoz is the first surfer from his country to enter an ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) event, the 2014 Hurley Pro at Trestles. At just 21, he already has the support of his nation, which helped him win the event's Video Trials overwhelmingly against household names like Patrick Gudauskas (USA) and Dusty Payne (HAW).
The win scored him a Wildcard spot in the Hurley Pro, but also catapulted him into the spotlight well beyond the borders of his home turf.
What inspired you to throw your trunks in the ring for the Hurley Pro Video Trials?
How can I start? It was an idea from my friends first, at Gallo Pinto. Gallo Pinto TV is a website that makes videos from Costa Rica. And they sent all the videos; they asked me before they did -â€” we're friends, we always film stuff. Everything happened so quickly that I don't even know what to say. I'm so surprised, so happy.
Your whole country was behind you, even the soccer team. What was your reaction to that? Was there anyone whose support surprised you the most?
It's a long story. Because in my country they are supporting surfing a lot, so they've been following me on the tour, every time I go to a QS event, they [cover it in] the newspaper. They focus on how I do in contests; they follow me in the news, the radio, everything.
The only thing we need is support. From the companies in our own country. And from the industry to look for surfers from Costa Rica and to help them.
It's a really small country, we have 4 million people. Everything that you put in the news, or you put on the radio, everybody sees it. Also, the people there love surfing, and they've been behind me for the past three years. When they gave me this chance, everybody was voting for me.
What was really surprising, was I checked it out on the Facebook [profile] of Joel Campbell, one of the new players from Arsenal from England. He posted the Hurley Pro to vote for me. The other was a soccer player from Switzerland. He put it on Facebook, too. So a lot of people voted for me, and I'm happy. From the United States, people in Hawaii, people in Europe, everywhere. I feel so special and thankful. I'm going to try my best and give them my 200% for sure.
With all of this support, suddenly you are going to be under a big spotlight in the Hurley Pro at Trestles. Do you have any fears going into the contest?
Fears? I don't have any fears. Lowers is a perfect wave. I've got a lot of confidence with my surfing and I believe in my surfing. I just hope that I can get the best waves and rip. With my whole country behind me, I hope I can get to the Final.
I'm going to go, enjoy, surf, try to surf smart, and make heats. I've competed against CT guys, and I've beat a couple guys so, I'm excited.
Your debut at the Hurley Pro this fall will be the first time a Costa Rican surfer has competed in a WCT event. Why haven't there been other Costa Ricans on the Tour? What do the surfers there need to succeed, and what would have helped make your path easier?
Costa Rica doesn't have too much of a history in surfing. Now everybody has started liking surfing in Costa Rica. Also, the support in Costa Rica wasn't that great for surfers. I got lucky that I got sponsored by Volcom, and Super, and Red Bull since I was little, and I've had the chance to go out for Costa Rica and compete. That would make the difference between me and others. But I think Costa Rica has a lot of love, and in the next couple of years there is going to be a new generation of a lot of us surfers.
The only thing we need is support. Support from the companies in our own country, from private industry in Costa Rica. And also from the surfing industry to look at us, and look for the young surfers from Costa Rica coming up, and try to help them.
Who would you be the most excited to surf against during the 2014 Hurley Pro at Trestles?
Anyone would be welcome.
Anything else that's important to you, that we missed?
I love my family!
The Hurley Pro at Trestles has a waiting period of September 9-20, and will stream live daily on this site.