Team France Wins Historic Gold Medal at 2016 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship

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Individual Gold Medalists: USA’s Caroline Marks (Girls U-16), France’s Thomas Debierre (Boys U-16), Hawaii’s Brisa Hennessy (Girls U-18) and Brazil’s Weslley Dantas (Boys U-18)

After nine days of world-class competition in the Azores, Team France emerged victorious at the 2016 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship. The Team Gold Medal is the first for France in the history of the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship and the first in the Olympic Surfing era.

Team France overtook Australia in the overall team rankings on the penultimate day of competition and didn’t let go on the Final Day. Team Australia finished with the Silver Medal, Team Hawaii with the Bronze Medal and Team Japan with the Copper Medal.

FRA_Team_RezendesTeam France celebrates their first time ever winning the ISA World Junior Team Champion Trophy. Photo: ISA / Miguel Rezendes

The Team Copper Medal was also Japan’s first team medal in the history of the ISA and a promising preview of their drive to develop the sport on the road to Olympic Surfing in Tokyo 2020.

USA’s Caroline Marks (Girls U-16), France’s Thomas Debierre (Boys U-16), Hawaii’s Brisa Hennessy (Girls U-18) and Brazil’s Weslley Dantas (Boys U-18) were crowned the individual Gold Medalists, the first individual World Junior Champions in the era of Olympic Surfing.

ISA President Fernando Aguerre spoke about the exciting day of action in the Azores:

“Congratulations to the Team Gold Medalist, Team France, and the individual Gold Medalists Caroline Marks, Thomas Debierre, Brisa Hennessey and Weslley Dantas. These surfers will forever be the very first ISA Junior Gold Medalists in the Olympic Surfing era. As all the other ISA competitors, they surfed in true Olympic spirit and showed amazing team camaraderie as they competed for the honor of representing their countries.

“A record-breaking 39 nations came together from around the world to surf in this history-making VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, for a phenomenal week of surfing and national pride. Since 1980, the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship has been the premiere stage for developing the future stars of our sport and this year is no exception. These Gold Medalists have burst into the spotlight and could be the first Olympic surfers ever at Tokyo 2020.”

The Girls U-16 Final kicked off the Series of Finals at Praia de Monte Verde with a solid swell groomed by offshore wind. USA’s Caroline Marks built a demanding lead with a heat total of 14.5 points and never looked back. Rounding out the heat was Australia’s India Robinson (7.93) with the Silver Medal, New Zealand’s Elin Tawharu (5.17) with the Bronze Medal and Great Britain’s Ellie Turner (2.44) with the Copper Medal.

Girls U-16 Gold Medalist, Caroline Marks, said:

“It feels amazing to win the first Gold Medal of the event! This is my first ISA World Championship, so this win is really special to me. My teammates helped me a ton.

“I worked really hard to get here and moving forward it is definitely a goal of mine to compete with all the world’s top female surfers.”

USA_Caroline_Marks_01_RezendesCaroline Marks (USA) wins the first individual Gold Medal of the competition in the Girls U-16 division. Photo: ISA / Miguel Rezendes

The Boys U-16 Final ensued, with France’s Thomas Debierre putting on a performance that would propel France to the Team Gold Medal. Debierre was able to fend off two Japanese teammates and finish with a heat total of 12.50. Australia’s Kyuss King (7.87) earned the Silver Medal, Japan’s Yuji Mori (7.53) the Bronze Medal and Japan Yuji Nishi (2.83) the Copper Medal.

Boys U-16 Gold Medalist, Thomas Debierre, said:

“I came here to win the title and that’s what I did. I am stoked that I won. This is a big step for me, for my Surfing and for getting to the Olympics.

“Having my team behind me gave me all of the strength that I needed. This is the best day of my life!”

FRA_Thomas_Debierre_RezendesFrance’s Thomas Dibierre takes advantage of the clean, offshore conditions at Praia do Monte Verde on the Final Day of competition. Photo: ISA / Miguel Rezendes

Next was the Girls U-18 Final, which came down to the wire and was decided by Brisa Hennessy’s (HAW) 6.50-point wave in the dying seconds. Hennessy catapulted herself into the Gold Medal position, overcoming Tahiti’s Vahine Fierro (8.26) who earned the Silver Medal. Costa Rica’s Leilani McGonagle (7.97) earned the Bronze Medal and France’s Juliette Brice (4.6) earned the Copper Medal.

Girls U-16 Gold Medalist, Brisa Hennessy, said:

“It means so much to win the Gold. My experience from last year’s event where I won the Bronze Medal helped me so much. I hope one day that I can use this experience get to the Olympics. That would be amazing.

“The ISA World Junior Surfing Championship is an amazing contest and I always look forward to the next one.”

HAW_Brisa_Hennessy_Evans3Hawaii’s Brisa Hennessy took the Gold in the Girls U-18 division after winning the Bronze in 2015. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

The Boy’s U-18 Final capped off the day. In another nail-biter, Peru’s Alonso Correa made a last ditch attempt to surpass Brazil’s Weslley Dantas in the final seconds of the heat. Both surfers stood with their teams on the shore, anxiously waiting for the final scores to be posted. It turned out that Correa’s wave of 7.40 was not enough, falling less than a half point short of Dantas’ score. Dantas (13.34) retained his lead and earned the Gold Medal. Alonso Correa (13) earned the Silver Medal, France’s Colin Doyez (8.4) earned the Bronze Medal and Australia’s Harley Ross (7.74) earned the Copper Medal.

DSC06514-2Brazil’s Weslley Dantas soaks in the emotion after being crowed the Boys U-18 Gold Medalist. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Boys U-18 Gold Medalist, Weslley Dantas, said:

“It’s great to have won here in the Azores. This tells all Brazilians that there can be many more World Champions from Brazil.

“I think that I can be an Olympic surfer one day as well as many of the competitors that participated in this event.”

Watch previous day’s webcasts of the 2016 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship here:

View the full event results here:

Girls U-16
Gold – Caroline Marks (USA)
Silver – India Robinson (AUS)
Bronze – Elin Tawharu (NZL)
Copper – Ellie Turner (GBR)

Boys U-16
Gold – Thomas Debierre (FRA)
Silver – Kyuss King (AUS)
Bronze – Yuji Mori (JPN)
Copper – Yuji Nishi (JPN)

Girls U-18
Gold – Brisa Hennessy (HAW)
Silver – Vahine Fierro (TAH)
Bronze – Leilani McGonagle (CRC)
Copper – Juliette Brice (FRA)

Boys U-18
Gold – Weslley Dantas (BRA)
Silver – Alonso Correo (PER)
Bronze – Colin Doyez (FRA)
Copper – Harley Ross (AUS)

Team Standings
1 – Gold Medal, France (6725)
2 – Silver Medal, Australia (6595)
3 – Bronze Medal, Hawaii (5925)
4 – Copper Medal, Japan (5468)
5 – USA (5450)
6 – Brazil (4988)
7 – Costa Rica (4567)
8 – Tahiti (4512)
9 – South Africa (4305)
10 – New Zealand (4296)
11 – Peru (4178)
12 – Spain (4116)
13 – Great Britain (3965)
14 – Portugal (3528)
15 – Argentina (3261)
16 – Chile (2873)
17 – Mexico (2850)
18 – Morocco (2804)
19 – Uruguay (2706)
20 – Puerto Rico (2518)
21 – Canada (2503)
22 – Israel (2487)
23 – Barbados (2470)
24 – Germany (2164)
25 – Belgium (2092)
26 – Italy (1726)
27 – Scotland (1464)
28 – Wales (1463)
29 – Ecuador (1450)
30 – Nicaragua (1440)
31 – Russia (1097)
32 – Panama (1059)
33 – Sweden (704)
34 – Norway (378)
35 – Sao Tome e Principe (322)
36 – Poland (194)
37 – Austria (160)
38 – Colombia (91)
38 – Denmark (91)

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, Para 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; World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012; and World Para Surfing Champions in 2015.

ISA membership includes the surfing National Federations of 108 countries on five continents. The ISA is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (ARG). The Executive Committee includes four Vice-Presidents Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL), Athletes’ Commission Chair Justine Dupont (FRA), Regular Members Atsushi Sakai (JPN) and Jean Luc Arassus (FRA) and ISA Executive Director Robert Fasulo as Ex-officio Member.

Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California (USA).