Sunday marked the close to an outstanding week of surfing for this years Vissla ISA World Junior Championship in Huntington Beach. We were promised great surf and sun and that is exactly what we got.
Team Japan made junior surfing history and earned their first-ever Team Gold Medal. Led by the individual Gold Medal performance by Boys U-18 competitor Keanu Kamiyama and four additional individual medals, Team Japan pushed ahead of Silver Medal Team USA to take the Junior Team World Title by a margin of 132 points.
Japan’s first-ever Junior Gold Medal performance comes shortly after a historic first Gold Medal for Team Japan in the World Surfing Games that took place in September in Tahara, Japan. The exceptional performances by Team Japan across both open and junior divisions is a testimony to the extraordinary growth of Surfing in Japan since the sport’s inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Team Australia earned the Bronze Medal and Team Hawaii the Copper Medal.
Team Japan’s Gold Medal depended on the Boys U-18 final heat of the day featuring two Japanese athletes, Keanu Kamiyama and Joh Azuchi, and USA’s Cole Houshmand. Kamiyama and Azuchi shined in a closely-surfed heat and took the Gold and Silver Medals to lead Japan to the Gold. Houshmand earned the Copper, resulting in Team USA falling to the Silver Medal position.
Germany’s Rachel Presti made history in the Girls U-18 Division and earned the first-ever ISA medal for Germany across any discipline.
The final day of competition at Huntington Beach Pier saw the Main Event Final, Repechage Final and Grand Final take place across Boys and Girls U-16 and U-18 Divisions.
The Girls U-16 Grand Final kicked off with a bang as USA’s 13-year-old Caitlin Simmers posted the highest wave score of the day with 9.17. The Japanese duo Shino Matsuda and Sara Wakita were never able to catch Simmers after her blazing start, finishing with the Silver and Bronze Medals, respectively. Spain’s Lucía Machado earned the Copper.
Australia’s Grayson Hinrichs put on a show in the Boys U-16 Final. He jumped out to an early lead with a solid 7.5 and then waited until the dying minutes of the heat to earn his highest score of 8.6 to take the Gold Medal. USA’s Kade Matson and Levi Slawson respectively earned the Silver and Bronze Medals. Japan’s Riaru Ito finished with the Copper.
Germany’s Rachel Presti continued her standout performance throughout the whole event and earned the Gold in the Girls U-18. Hawaii’s Keala Tomoda Bannert earned the top performance for Team Hawaii with the Silver Medal, followed by Japan’s Minami Nonaka with the Bronze. Summer Macedo’s efforts to earn her second ISA Junior Gold came to an end despite great performances in the event, earning the Copper Medal.
The Boys U-18 Final capped off the day, where Japan’s Kamiyama paved the path to the Gold Medal for his team. Japan’s Joh Azuchi, the 2017 Boys U-16 Gold Medalist, followed his teammate Kamiyama with the Silver Medal in an emotional display of team camaraderie. South Africa’s Luke John Slijpen earned the Bronze and USA’s Cole Houshmand the Copper.
1 (Gold) – Japan
2 (Silver) – USA
3 (Bronze) – Australia
4 (Copper) – Hawaii
5 – France
6 – Spain
7 – Brazil
8 – South Africa
9 – Germany
10 – Portugal
1 (Gold) – Caitlin Simmers (USA)
2 (Silver) – Shino Matsua (JPN)
3 (Bronze) – Sara Wakita (JPN)
4 (Copper) – Lucía Machado (ESP)
1 (Gold) – Grayson Hinrichs (AUS)
2 (Silver) – Kade Matson (USA)
3 (Bronze) – Levi Slawson (USA)
4 (Copper) – Riaru Ito (JPN)
1 (Gold) – Rachel Presti (GER)
2 (Silver) – Keala Tomoda Bannert (HAW)
3 (Bronze) – Minami Nonaka (JPN)
4 (Copper) – Summer Macedo (HAW)
1 (Gold) – Keanu Kamiyama (JPN)
2 (Silver) – Joh Azuchi (JPN)
3 (Bronze) – Luke John Slijpen (RSA)
4 (Copper) – Cole Houshmand (USA)
Photos by Ben Reed, Sean Evans & Paul Naude