A record number of ISA World Junior Competitors are currently in Pedasi, Panama to compete for individual and team glory. This event, which brings together the best under-18 surfers from around the world, marks the third time that Panama Tourism and the ISA have partnered to host an ISA World Championship event.
Nearly 300 surfers are competing in three divisions (Boys Under-18, Boys Under-16, and Girls Under-18) over the course of eight days of competition at Playa Venao, a beach-break located on the Pacific Ocean side of the country.
The ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, sponsored by Dakine and presented by Billabong, officially began this weekend with the parade of nations and opening ceremony. On Saturday, the streets of Pedasi were flooded with the flags and the colors of the 31 competing nations, making this the largest juniors event in history.
“Regardless of the color of our skin, the country we come from, our religion or anything that may seem to divide us, we are all connected through surfing,” said Fernando Aguerre, the President of the ISA, in his opening remarks.
As a symbol of the global surfing connection, each team sent a flag bearer and a representative onto the stage after the Parade of the Nations came to a close for the traditional ISA Sands of the World Ceremony. Sands from home beaches are poured into a glass container, representing the peaceful gathering of nations through the love of surfing.
The action started yesterday with the schedule devoted entirely to the boys, with 48 Qualifying Round 1 heats running in both the Under-18s and Under-16s. USA’s Trevor Thornton and Hawaii’s Koa Smith emerged as top contenders as they finished their heats.
According to Surfline, the Official Forecaster of the event, waves should be increasing in size for the next couple days, capping out in the six- to seven-foot range. It should make for some interesting competition this week. The event ends next Sunday, April 22nd, when it will be the Finals and Closing Ceremony.