The World’s Best Junior Surfers Will Be Aiming to Add Their Name to the Long List of Superstar ISA Junior Champs in Panama
DaKine ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong
April 14 to 22, 2012
Playa Venao, Panama
In less than four weeks time, the world’s best junior surfers will begin arriving in Panama, with hopes of etching their name alongside some of the great ISA Junior World Champions of years past. Over the course of eight days of competition at the DaKine ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong, nearly 300 surfers from over 30 countries will try to prove that they are among the elite up-and-coming talents in the world – and ready for whatever may come next.
“This is our biggest event every year and certainly one of the most exciting, for various reasons,” said Fernando Aguerre, the president of the ISA. “We’ve had up-and-coming surfers launch their careers at this contest. There’s always so much talent and you never know exactly who’ll rise to the top.”
The recurring question every year at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship seems to be, “Who amongst these competitors will be surfing’s next superstar?” The ISA has been putting on the World Junior Championship since 2003, and the event has been integral in launching the competitive careers of the best athletes in surfing since the event began.
Names like Jordy Smith (RSA), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Kolohe Andino (USA) and Carissa Moore (HAW) have pulled on the singlet and represented their respective country in ISA competition. Gilmore and Moore have won ASP Women’s World Titles in recent years, and Medina won two ASP World Tour events last year. The 2011 ISA’s Boys Under-18 Champion, Cristobal de Col (PER), is one of the most highly-touted young talents in the sport today.
The competition is broken into three divisions: Boys Under-18, Girls Under-18 and Boys Under-16. Teams can have up to four surfers competing in each division.
Just like in years past, competitors will have a high quality venue in which to display their talent. Depending on the tide, the waves at Playa Venao – which is located on the Pacific Ocean side of the country – can produce hollow beachbreak barrels or perfect, rippable left- and right-handers. The wind conditions at Playa Venao are ideal during April, with offshore winds typical on most days.
As the Opening Ceremony grows closer, a few teams are still finalizing their rosters in hopes of bringing the best possible Junior team to Panama to contend for both individual and team medals. Team Australia has to be considered one of the favorites for the Team Gold medal, having won the overall title six of the nine years the event has run. However, as we learned last year from Team Peru’s rise to the top of the podium, any team can arrive with the right combination of young talent and win it all. Other teams vying for the top spot will be South Africa (runner-up in 2011), Hawaii (fourth) and USA (fifth).
The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; and World StandUp Paddle (SUP) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012.
ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 100 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. The ISA’s four Vice-Presidents are Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL).