Japanese Gold! Team Japan Captures Thrilling Gold Medal in ISA Aloha Cup

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2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship set to crown first ISA World Champions in Japan in 27 years

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In a dramatic Final, home nation Japan earned the first Gold Medals of the 2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship on Saturday in the Aloha Cup, the ISA’s one-of-a-kind mixed-gender relay event.

Team Japan erupts in joy as they are crowned Gold Medalists of the ISA Aloha Cup. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Team Japan erupts in joy as they are crowned Gold Medalists of the ISA Aloha Cup. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

In a closely fought battle with France, Hawaii, and Costa Rica, Japan’s young team emerged victorious after displaying excellent Surfing and a heroic sprint to the beach to beat the buzzer.

Japan, France, and Hawaii, the defending ISA Aloha Cup Gold Medalist, went blow for blow trading off high-scoring waves. As time was winding down, Team Japan had Joh Azuchi, their anchor leg of the relay in the water, needing to arrive back to the team box before time expired to avoid a 5-point penalty. Azuchi quickly scored two waves in the 7-point range and sprinted back to the beach, managing to dive across the finish line just as time expired.

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Joh Azuchi sprints into Japan’s final leg of the relay. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

When the final scores registered, the local crowd erupted in cheers as Team Japan had won the Gold by a margin of 6 points.

I want to thank everyone here supporting us,” said Japan’s Team Captain, Yuji Nishi. “We have a really strong team that works well together, and it showed with our Gold Medal here today.”

Following Team Japan were Hawaii with the Silver, France with the Bronze, and Costa Rica with the Copper.

Joh Azuchi closes out the team relay with two 7 point rides in the Final. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Joh Azuchi closes out the team relay with two 7 point rides in the Final. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

On Sunday the Grand Finals are set to take place, with four individual and Team Gold Medalists to be crowned, the first since the ISA World Surfing Games were held in the country in 1990.

Team USA currently holds a marginal lead in the overall team rankings, intent on repeating their 2015 performance when they earned their first-ever Team Gold Medal in Oceanside, California.

Hawaii has put themselves in contention after jumping from fifth to second in the team rankings during Friday’s competition. Trailing USA by only 160 points, Hawaii is still in the mix for the Team Gold Medal and will be looking to capitalize on any mistakes by Team USA in the Repechage and Grand Finals on Sunday.

The host nation Japan currently sits in third position, trailing by 1,187 points. Japan made history by earning the Copper Medal, their first in the history of the event, at the 2016 edition of the event in the Azores.

Sitting closely behind Japan in fourth place is the defending Gold Medalist Team France.

ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said:

“Huge congrats to Team Japan for their Gold medal in the Aloha Cup world championship today!

“Eight days of emotion, team camaraderie, sweat, and tears are coming to an end. We are ready to crown the first World Champions in Japan since the 1990 ISA World Surfing Games.

“What we have seen this week has been nothing short of incredible. The level of Surfing we have witnessed surely will lead to these surfers becoming the future stars of the sport.”

The international competitors have been treated by traditional Japanese performances at the event to give them a taste of Japanese culture. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

The international competitors have been treated by traditional Japanese performances at the event to give them a taste of Japanese culture. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

The event will be streamed live on www.isaworlds.com September 23 – October 1.

The schedule for Saturday’s competition is as follows*:

Podium 1

  • 9:00am – Event Director to assess conditions and make call
  • Girls U-16 Repechage Final
  • Boys U-16 Repechage Final
  • Girls U-18 Repechage Final
  • Boys U-18 Repechage Final
  • Girls U-16 Grand Final
  • Boys U-18 Grand Final
  • Girls U-18 Grand Final
  • Boys U-18 Grand Final

*All times in Japan Standard Time, UTC +9:00.

The remaining event schedule will be as follows:

October 1: Competition followed by Closing Ceremony, Okuragahama Beach

The view the official Surfline forecast, click here.

ISA Aloha Cup Results:

Gold – Japan
Silver – Hawaii
Bronze – France
Copper – Costa Rica

About The International Surfing Association:
The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, 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, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012.

ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 103 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). ƒ