Opening Ceremony to inaugurate the competition on Saturday in Ribeira Grande, Azores
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The 2016 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship has broken the record for largest number of athletes and countries participating in the event’s 37-year history. 371 surfers hailing from 39 countries have arrived to compete in the Azores, shattering the previous record set at the 2015 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in Oceanside, California, which featured 322 surfers from 36 National Surfing Teams.
The international field of competitors have been greeted by solid waves during their free surf sessions prior to the start of the 2016 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans
With U-18 junior surfers competing, the Championship showcases the rising stars of the sport and represents an important stepping stone for athletes aspiring to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Some of the world’s current top surfers started as ISA World Junior Champions for their national teams including the 2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA, 2010), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW, 2014, 2013), Filipe Toledo (BRA, 2011), Tyler Wright (AUS, 2010, 2009), Alejo Muniz (BRA, 2008), Laura Enever (AUS, 2008), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS, 2007), Julian Wilson (AUS, 2006), Owen Wright (AUS, 2006), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS, 2005, 2004), Matt Wilkinson (AUS, 2004) and Jordy Smith (RSA, 2003).
On Saturday morning the Opening Ceremony will inaugurate the competition in the quaint, coastal village of Ribeira Grande on the island of São Miguel in the Azores. The National Delegations will participate in the traditional Parade of Nations and Sands of the World Ceremony, pouring sand from their local beaches into a container to symbolize the peaceful gathering of nations through Surfing.
The 39 teams that have confirmed their participation are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hawaii, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Sao Tome e Principe, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tahiti, Uruguay, USA and Wales.
The recording breaking number of competing nations mirrors the growth of ISA Membership within the ISA. The ISA had 32 National Governing Bodies (NGBs) in 1994 when President Fernando Aguerre was first elected and now has a membership of more than 100 NGBs active across all five continents. This highlights further the global growth and development of the organization which has underpinned the strategy for Olympic inclusion for Surfing over many years and will continue to fuel ambitions to solidify the sport’s position on the Olympic Program beyond Tokyo 2020.
Nine of the athletes set to compete at the 2016 ISA VISSLA World Junior Surfing Championship are also recipients of the ISA Scholarship Program – an initiative that offers financial aid to surfers who are under 18 to further their education, pay for travel to surf contests, pay for contest fees and upgrade their surfing equipment. Athletes are considered based on their dedication to Surfing as well as their academic performance.
ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said:
“As the largest ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in history, this year’s competition is the pinnacle of junior surfing and a glimpse at the possible future Olympians of the sport. The increased participation and inclusion of non-traditional Surfing nations, such as Poland and Sao Tome e Principe, highlights the global expansion of the sport of Surfing to new regions of the globe. This global vision has underpinned our drive for Olympic inclusion for many years and will continue to fuel our ambitions going forward as we aim to solidify our position on the Olympic Sports Program beyond Tokyo 2020.”
Surfline, the official forecaster, is calling for an easing swell through Saturday, September 17, and Sunday, September 18. The surf is expected to start trending up on Monday and Tuesday through the middle of the week. Surfline is keeping their eye on a storm currently forming in the Labrador Sea that could produce solid surf for the tail end of the contest period.
View the full Surfline forecast here: isaworlds.com/juniors/2016/en/surfline-forecast/
Due to the record number of athletes and increased number of heats, the competition will get underway on Saturday, September 17 at 3pm after the Opening Ceremony, as opposed to Sunday, September 18, the original scheduled date.
The Schedule will be the following:
Saturday, September 17, 10:30am: Opening Ceremony in Ribeira Grande, São Miguel
Saturday, September 17, 3pm: Start of Competition
Sunday September 18-25: Competition at Praia do Monte Verde, São Miguel
Sunday, September 25: Closing Ceremony and Awards Ceremony at Praia do Monte Verde
*Local time in Azores.
Follow the action live September 17-25 on www.isaworlds.com.