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Capistrano Beach surfer Rachael Tilly brings home a silver medal from the 2013 ISA World Longboard Championship in Peru
By Andrea Swayne
Although hopes for a team medal at the 2013 ISA World Championship in Peru were dashed when the illness-plagued USA squad’s two men and one junior men competitor were eliminated in earlier rounds, Capistrano Beach local Rachael Tilly powered through to take silver in the women’s division.
Going into the event, Team USA was expected to be in medal contention but all four members fell ill adding an extra hurdle to overcome.
“It was a bummer, it was hard on our team because it caused us not to do as well as we wanted to as a team,” Tilly said. “Luckily, when I got sick I didn’t surf the following day. It was also kind of a blessing that I lost out because it meant I had to surf extra heats. Those extra heats helped me slowly gain back my energy and I felt pretty strong in the Repechage Final.”
Her improving strength showed and Tilly finished second in the Rep Final behind Hawaiian Megan Godinez to move on to the Final.
“As the heat wound down, I only needed a 5.01 and I knew that was a score I could get,” she said. “I was in third and looking for that right wave when I finally caught one in the last minute. It didn’t line up like I wanted it to but it was enough to push me up to second place.”
In the Final, Tilly earned a two-wave score of 10.43 (out of 20) making her the runner-up to individual gold medalist Simone Robb (11.50) of South Africa. Justine Dupont (9.83) of France earned bronze and Godinez (7.27), copper.
Tilly’s teammates, Tony Silvagni of North Carolina and Taylor Jensen of Oceanside, along with junior division team member Nick Anderberg of Cardiff, played a big part in supporting her through to the finals, she said.
“The team was so behind me and had so much confidence in me,” Tilly said. “They were saying, ‘You totally got this, you’ve been surfing great all week.’ It really boosted my confidence and it was great to have them there to support me.”
The team did make progress this year, thanks largely to Tilly’s silver medal performance. Last year, before the addition of a women’s division in the event, Team USA finished in eighth place. This year they moved up one ranking to No. 7 in the world.
“Wearing my team hat and shirt on the plane was super cool because I have never had an experience like this. It was my first time traveling internationally for surfing and representing the county was an honor,” Tilly said. “I wore my medal on the way home and people were asking for autographs and pictures. I was blown away that this was actually happening. Traveling as part of the team was an amazing dream come true.”