Nick Thorn sent Lucy Campbell on her way to Panama for the DAKINE ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong with a new Quiver Board as part of her sponsorship with Nick Thorn Surf Coaching – ready to take on the World!
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.
Photo: Hawaii´s Koa Smith lays on the brakes on a long, racing Playa Venao wall. Photo: ISA/Rommel Gonzalez