Shaka in Oaxaca

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Jhony Corzo, world surfing champion, rides the wave with the Breitling Super ocean in Puerto Escondido

Zicatela is the wave. Known as the Mexican “pipeline”, Puerto Escondido is one of the world’s top surfers. As dangerous as they are perfect, waves of up to nine meters can be seen on this Mexican Pacific coast. Another natural prodigy of the wonders that Oaxaca keeps. Tubes that border on perfection. “The perfect wave is the one you enter, do a couple of maneuvers, get out and find the tube again… it never ends”, says Jhony Corzo, who always smiles when he speaks. He is another force emerging from the magical land of Oaxaca. Against all odds, he defeated the sacred beasts of the sea with bravado and daring when no one expected it. At just 18 years old, in 2017, he became world surfing champion in Biarritz (France) — he was also recognized then with the National Sports Award in Mexico.

The feat was memorable. After participating in two previous world championships in the junior category, Jhony was called up for his first world championship in the open category without even preparing him. “I had had a good year, I had managed to beat some elite category athletes and the Mexican Federation invited me to the competition in France, I had not even planned it on my calendar.” It was already an achievement to become one of the youngest surfers to reach a world final at 18 years old. “I had no pressure, so the less pressure you have, the better it goes. Everything happened. I had nothing to lose, it was amazing. He was connected to the sea. Luckily, my father also accompanied me on that occasion, I usually go alone or with friends”.

Surfing is a family affair for Jhony Corzo. The house where he was born is a small sanctuary full of trophies and medals on top of a hill in Puerto Escondido. Dad, mom, brothers… they all surf and he practically learned to walk and surf at the same time. “I played soccer, I skated, I was always agile and athletic; My dad started to get me involved and surfing caught my attention”. Something natural thanks to the advantages of growing in the sea. “Little by little I lost my fear, practicing more and more every day and improving until I started competing. It gives me a lot of adrenaline.” Jhony tells us that when he started competing, he always had one of his goals to become world champion.

“All the champions have been an inspiration to me, as Kelly Sla-ora has also become a member of the famous Breitling squad. “It was my favorite brand. My dad also talked to me a lot about the firm. It was the law of attraction. They contacted me and I started with them when the pandemic passed. And I was even more excited when I saw Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons [members of Breitling’s Surfer Squad] there. I feel lucky to be someone from Mexico standing alongside these elite athletes on the Breitling team.” It shows off the new Superocean in black. “I take it everywhere and I have also used it to compete. I love the style. I can surf with my watch, but I can also go straight to dinner”, Jhony says with a laugh. “You are already dressed.”

From his terrace, he watches the wave every morning in Zicatela and decides where he is going to train. Today there are more surfers in the sea than bathers in Punta, the last beach that closes the small central bay of Puerto Escondido, which together with Zicatela and Carrizalillo make up the perfect trilogy for lovers of the first sport of the board. Jhony recently returned after closing his participation in the last World Cup this year in California.

ICONIC GREETING

“It is always an honor to represent Mexico.” He walks with the board in hand and salutes with the shaka. The “shaka sign,” also known as the “hang loose,” is the typical gesture often associated with Hawaii and surf culture. It is done by extending the thumb and little finger while the other fingers remain closed. The most popular greeting in Puerto Escondido. “It is a small town and if you do something, everything is bigger”, he comments with some shyness. Modesty and natural balance in the water and on dry land.

“The most important thing in surfing? “Have fun. And the more fun you have, the less pressure you put on yourself. Having that passion and feeling of wanting to surf. It is never too late”, affirms this young Mexican athlete. A piece of advice that helped him become number one in the world. “My main goal is to look for three or four more world championships. But I also want to achieve an Olympic medal. The next challenge is the Olympic Games in Paris 2024. I have been looking for it since it became an Olympic sport in Tokyo, I hope I can achieve that medal. I have her in mind.”

Source: El Universal