| Outside magazine, January 1996|
At the World Surf Kayak Championships last September in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, tempers flared when an eve-of-the-race rules meeting evolved into a heated debate about the sport's ho-hum direction. Members of the two co-ed U.S. teams argued that crowd-pleasing freestyle moves needed to be acknowledged and rewarded with style points. ("Backsurfing is not a crime," read one piece of graffiti near the race tent at Boca Barranca beach.) Teams from the U.K., which doesn't have the surf conditions for freestyle stunts, lobbied for the status quo. In the end, the International Class rules held, and in a week of light surf England took the team crown. The top U.S. team could only manage third and suffered another blow when 18-year-old Tim Thomas of Wales outpointed the defending champ, 38-year-old American Dick Wold, for the individual title.