World’s Top Juniors Arrive In Panama

Koa Smith

Koa Smith from the talented Hawaii team. Photo: ISA

DAKINE ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong
April 12, 2012
Playa Venao, Panama

With the Opening Ceremony for the DAKINE ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong just two days away, the lineups in Playa Venao are starting to fill up with anxious young surfers. The waves are head-high and the winds are blowing offshore from first light, so none of the athletes seem to be having any trouble shaking off the jet lag or acclimating themselves to their two week home in Panama.

On the beach they’re wearing their country colors, greeting athletes from other teams, some of whom they haven’t seen since this event last year, all the while keeping an eye on the wave conditions, plotting early heat strategy.

“For these young athletes, the early days before the competition are a chance to shake off the nerves, get to know their surroundings and come to grips with being a part of the largest and most important junior surfing competition in the world,” said Fernando Aguerre, the President of the ISA. “We have waves, we have sunshine and favorable winds; all the elements are lining up for a fantastic event.”

The top under-18 surfers in the world have made the trip to Playa Venao to try to achieve what Peru’s Cristobal de Col, Brazil’s Filipe Toledo and France’s Cannelle Bulard did last year – joining an exclusive group of ISA World Junior Gold Medalists. It’s a group that counts four-time world champion Tom Curren (USA), surfing phenom Jordy Smith (RSA), six-time world champ Stephanie Gilmore and World Tour standout Gabriel Medina (BRA) among its members.

In order to reach the summit of ISA surfing competition, the 300-plus surfers will have an ideal high-performance wave on which to perform. Before their practice sessions, between stretches, the surfers are catching themselves staring and pointing at the picturesque peaks breaking up and down the beach. On middle and high tide, the waves are perfect A-frames, providing wide-open wave faces for big turns, shifting to steep faces for big aerial maneuvers. On the lower tide, the young athletes are racing into barrels trying to reach daylight.

According to Surfline.com, the Official Forecaster for the event, multiple south/southwest swells are set to roll into Playa Venao, with waves ranging from shoulder-high to a couple feet overhead. Winds are expected to be offshore for most of the event.

While some teams will be primarily focused on individual medals and enjoying their stay in Panama, the surfing and competition powerhouse countries will have their sights set on the IOC Team Trophy, which will go to the Gold Medal Team Champions of the entire contest.

Though ISA events are about spreading the Aloha spirit and run in line with the Olympic spirit – with no cash prizes – top athletes in their respective disciplines attend the events to represent their country, and show their skill against surfers in their age-group. A solid showing at the ISA World Juniors – for a big-name grom or a lesser-known talent – could set a tone for the remainder of the contest season or even set a positive path to surfing’s professional ASP World Tour.

In total there will be 30 countries from all five continents represented in Panama. In addition to the hosts, the other national teams competing are Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Hawaii, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tahiti, Uruguay, USA and Venezuela.

The DAKINE ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong begins on April 14 with the traditional ISA Opening Ceremony, which includes a Parade of Nations and the Sands of the World Ceremony. Competition will begin on the morning of the 15th.

The Opening Ceremony and the competition can be viewed live at www.dakineisawjsc.com/live.

The DAKINE ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong is made possible with the support of the following event partners: DAKINE, Billabong, Panamá, Super Deportes, FOX Sports, Mini, Dollar Rent A Car, Copa Airlines, Extreme Surf & Sport. The media partners are Surfers Village, Surfea Panama, and Surfos. The Official Forecaster for the event is Surfline.
About the International Surfing Association
The International Surfing Association (ISA) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. It was originally founded as the International Surfing Federation in 1964 and has been running Open Division World Championships since 1964, Junior World Championships since 1980, and Masters World Championships since 2007. The ISA also sanctions the World Kneeboard Titles and the Tandem Surfing World Title, and held the first stand-alone World Bodyboard Championship in 2011, and the first World StandUp Paddle (SUP) and Paddleboard Championship in 2012.

ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 70 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in San Diego, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro and re-elected seven times since. The ISA´s three Vice-Presidents are Alan Atkins (AUS), Karín Sierralta (PER) and Debbie Beacham (USA).

More on www.isasurf.org

About DAKINE
Backed by a pro team roster that includes some of the world´s top action sports athletes, DAKINE has been an industry leader in action sports accessories since 1979. Founded in Hawaii and located at the base of Mt. Hood in Hood River, Oregon, DAKINE offers a complete range of innovative and quality products, including outerwear, sport-specific and lifestyle-driven backpacks, bags, travel gear and accessories. DAKINE products are available for purchase at specialty sports retailers worldwide. For more information, visit dakine.com/surf