Zoe Steyn-1200-th

Mon, 4 November 2019

USA scooped Gold on the back of five individual medal performances at the VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship after adding an Aloha Cup gold to their quiver.


TEAM USA: They win the world juniors for the third time. Photo ISA / Reed

After eight days of surfing from the top 342 under 18 surfers from 44 nations, Team USA earned the Team Gold Medal at Huntington Beach, the third in the history of the event (2015, 2017, 2019). Hawaii, Japan and Spain filled the other three podium spots, with Team South Africa ninth.

Germany finished ahead of South Africa led by Noah Lia Klapp taking gold in the Girls U-16. She followed that up with Bronze in the Girls U-18 minutes later. This is the second consecutive year that Germany has earned a Gold at the Juniors.

Team Hawaii rode a wave of momentum behind individual Gold Medal performances of Jackson Bunch in the Boys U-16 and Gabriela Bryan in the Girls U-18: “It’s pretty awesome to win gold,” said Bunch. “I was reviewing the past champions of this event and I couldn’t believe how many people on (the World Surf League Championship) tour had won this event. I am super psyched to win it and hopefully I can be like one of them.”

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PIER PRESSURE: Ceara Knight was knocked out of the event in Repecharge 4. Photo ISA / Evans

The final day of competition kicked off on the south side of Huntington Beach Pier with a decrease in swell, but classic, clean conditions to determine the World Champions. After a morning of Main Event Finals and Repechage Finals, the competition arrived at the highly anticipated Grand Finals to write the next chapter of the history books and identify the future stars of the sport.

The Aloha Cup tag team relay event is contested by the top eight teams from the previous year, comprising two semis of four teams each, and a final. South Africa took 4th in their Aloha Cup semi-final, so did not contest the final, and our 9th position overall disqualifies us from the Aloha Cup next year. In the first semi-final, Japan, Hawaii and France finished ahead of South Africa.

In the other semi, the US took the win, followed by Spain, Brazil and Australia. In the final, the US narrowly beat Spain into second place, followed by Japan and Hawaii. Some takeaways are that Spain is becoming a surfing powerhouse, and the stars of powerhouses like Australia are waning. The Aussies fell off the podium into sixth place in the event overall.

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SAFFA STAR: It's not hard to see why Dan Emslie was the best placed Saffa. Photo ISA / Reed

In terms of South Africa's performance, it was a mixed bag, with East London surfers performing the best for their team. Daniel Emslie, for the U16 Boys, survived four rounds of the main event, losing in Round 5, but won his Repecharge 8 and 9 heats, putting him in the penultimate heat before the final, which he narrowly lost. His 5th place in the event was worth 610 points to the team tally.

In the U16 Girls, another Slumtown surfer Zoe Steyn also cruised through four rounds of the main event, then dropped into the repercharge. She was eliminated in Repercharge 6, but scooped the second highest number of points (413) for Team SA.

The U18 Boys tried gamely, with Luke Slijpen reaching Round 4 of the U18 Boys but was eliminated in Repercharge 5 (380pts). Tide-Lee Ireland reached Round 3 and survived further to Repecharge 6 but banked the same points (380). Eli Beukes fell in Round 2, but survived until Repecharge 5, where he was eliminated (360).

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LIGHTEY ON A LEFT: Zoe Steyn pulls off a huge closeout re-entry. Photo ISA / Reed

The other two U16 boys, Luke Thompson and Brad Scott, got as far as Round 3, with Thompson eliminated in Repecharge 5 (360), and Scott dropping out in Repecharge 4 (320).

Steyn's U16 Girls teammates Ceara Knight and Kayla Nogueira got through Round 1, but the latter fell in Round 2, and was eliminated in Repecharge 3 (300). Knight managed Round 3, falling out of the event in Repecharge 4 (330).

The script for all three U18 girls - Tayla de Coning, Summer Sutton and Caroline Brown - was the same: lost in Round 2, eliminated in Repecharge 3. Not sure why there is a slight points difference in their contribution, but it was 270, 270 and 300 in no particular order.

Team ranking
Gold – USA
Silver – Hawaii
Bronze – Japan
Copper – Spain
5 – France
6 – Australia
7 – Portugal
8 – Germany
9 – South Africa
10 – Canada

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