USA’s Taro Watanabe’s 19.03 leads flurry of excellent scores through first 60 heats of competition
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The world’s best junior surfers put on an impressive display of world-class talent as competition got underway at the 2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship on Sunday morning at Okuragahama beach in Hyuga, Japan.
USA’s Taro Watanabe earned the highest two-wave total out of the 60 heats of the day. His two excellent waves of 9.7 and 9.33 resulted in a near-perfect score of 19.03, providing a strong start in the U-16 Division for the 2015 World Champion Team USA.
Marco Mignot, a key member of France’s Gold Medal team in 2016, earned the highest heat total of the day in the U-18 Division. Mignot followed USA’s Watanabe as the only other competitor with two scores in the 9-point range, earning a heat total of 18.80.
France’s two defending individual ISA Junior World Champions participating in the event, Thomas Debierre (2016) and Leo-Paul Etienne (2014), complimented Mignot’s stellar performance and earned first place in their respective Boys U-18 Round 1 heats to advance to the next round.
The Boy’s U-18 and U-16 Divisions nearly completed the Main Event’s opening round with the first 30 heats each of division taking to the water today.
With 41 nations competing, the 2017 edition of the VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship has broken records as the largest in the event’s 38-year history. Non-traditional Surfing nations have been riding the wave of momentum created by Surfing’s Olympic inclusion to represent their nations at the sport’s highest level.
Sweden’s Kian Martin, the sole representative of his country in the event, placed second in his U-18 Round 1 heat to advance and spoke about the significance of his participation for other Swedish surfers.
“Competing for Sweden is amazing because I want to show the younger kids that they can do it. I would be stoked to show all the people from Sweden that they can compete at a world-class competition. Hopefully the sport continues to grow in the country and next year we should have a full team.
“I’ve never done a comp with so many competitors and countries. I’ve made a lot of new friends and met a lot of new people. It’s great to be here and see everyone representing their countries with pride.
“My goal is to show Sweden that we can take home the Gold.”
Martin, who is competing in both Boys Division, was not able to put together a performance to get through to Round 2 in U-16. However, he will be relegated to the Repechage Rounds where he will get a second chance to advance through the event and win a Gold Medal for his country.
ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said:
“After an incredible Opening Ceremony in Hyuga, Japan, what a fantastic first day of competition at Okagurahama beach.
“41 countries gathered in peace to celebrate the competition and the sport of Surfing as a whole.
“The world’s best junior surfers put an on amazing performance from sunrise to sunset. It’s safe to say that the future of the sport is in good hands with these athletes, some who we could see competing in three years at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“After seeing incredible action from the Boys, tomorrow the Girls take to the water and get their turn to show us the incredible talent that they possess.”
The official Surfline forecast is calling for continued swell in the 2-4 foot range and clean conditions for Monday at Okuragahama Beach.
The event will be streamed live on www.isaworlds.com September 23 – October 1.
The schedule for Monday’s competition is as follows*:
Podium 1 (live webcast)
- 7:00am-7:40am – 2 heats Boys U-18 Main Event Round 1
- 7:40am-8:20am – 2 heats Boys U-16 Main Event Round 1
- 8:20am-1:40pm – 16 heats Girls U-18 Main Event Round 1
- 1:40pm-5:00pm – 10 heats Boys U-16 Main Event Round 2
- 7:00am-12:20pm – 16 heats Girls U-16 Main Event Round 1
- 12:20pm-5:00pm – 14 heats Boys U-18 Main Event Round 2
*All times in Japan Standard Time, UTC +9:00.
The remaining event schedule will be as follows:
September 25 – October 1: Competition at Okuragahama Beach
October 1: Closing Ceremony, Okuragahama Beach
The view the official Surfline forecast, click here.