Bocas del Toro Surfers Rank High on the 2020 APS National Surf Circuit – Juampi Caraballo #1 Open Category

It has been a hard year to say the least. The pandemic has claimed lives, destroyed businesses and canceled a whole lot of events; including most of the dates on the APS national circuit, the season for the Asociación Panameña de Surf (Panamanian Surf Association). The standings from the shortened season are now final and surfers from the Bocas del Toro islands did well this year.

Juan Miguel “Juampi” Caraballo is again ranked number one in the country in the “Open” category. Juampi took home the APS Open category championship in 2016 for the first time and has also placed as the runner-up two times, along with winning awards in the Sub-18 and a Sub-15 categories early in his career.

Juampi surfing Paunch early 2020. Photo by Tony Z photos.

Though the 2020 APS season was cut short because of the pandemic and state of national emergency, the first two competitions of the season were successfully completed. The events were actually held on Paunch Beach in Bocas del Toro on January 18-19 and January 20-21, 2020. The competition happened to be dubbed as the Doble Corona (“double crown” in Spanish, referring to the back to back competition dates). This of course is just a coincidence as the event was named long before the pandemic outbreak caused by the strain of a Corona-virus. Juampi was the leader of both events and on December 7th, 2020, the APS announced the standings, confirming Caraballo’s #1 rank in the league’s open category for the 2020 season.

“I was having a good season, but unfortunately the pandemic happened and shut down everything. During the lockdown, I didn’t want to get out of shape, so I took advantage of the fact that I had the sea in front of my house. It was going to be a good season,” he told La Prensa in a Spanish language interview, translated by The Bocas Breeze. Juampi lives on Isla Colón and runs a car wash and restaurant called Wipeout. “I’m here, trying to recover and fortunately I do not make a living from surfing. I just enjoy surfing. I will continue with this sport, but trying to help the younger surfers,” says Caraballo.

Bibi placed 2nd the the “Damas Junior” category (Young Ladies). Photo courtesy of Ziggys Ride And Surf

Placing 1st in this year’s Master category and 3rd for Long Board is Juampi’s father Juan Caraballo. Also making the top of the rankings were young Bocas del Toro surfers Josué Chen and Bibiana “Bibi” Bertone. There is so much surfing talent on the Caribbean side of Panama!

Much like anything that involves events and gathering of people, the dates of the 2021 national surfing circuit have yet to be scheduled. “So far we cannot publish a calendar of events for 2021 considering the current health crisis that continues to affect the country,” APS published on its Instagram page.

Congratulations to Juampi, Juan, Josué, Bibi and to all participants in this year’s national circuit. We look forward to the next season for the Asociación Panameña de Surf, whenever it is possible to resume events in the country.

Juan Caraballo is shaper of many boards in town under the brands JCShapes and Paunch Surf Corp.


Josué Chen and his JCShapes board, the Juamp1 Pro model.


Courtesy of APS on Instagram

Courtesy of APS on Instagram

The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

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