The East Coast’s top talent headed over to Playa Jiquiliste, Nicaragua, from June 8th-16th to compete in the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships. The water was warm and clear, the waves were fun and rippable, and with 286 competitors proudly representing teams from 30 different countries, the excitement was palpable. In this high-stakes, super-charged atmosphere, East Coast surfers hunkered down and produced some of their best results in ISA history.
The Surfing America PacSun USA Junior Surf Team was the perfect example, putting on its best performance yet to win a silver medal in the Aloha Cup Team Relay behind Japan, two bronze medals and one copper medal in individual competition, and the bronze medal for overall team points behind Australia and Hawaii. Much to our delight, East Coast team members were instrumental in bringing home the bacon. South Carolina’s Cam Richards put on a power surfing clinic to help propel the US’s Aloha Cup Relay Team squad, which included Thelen McKinna-Worrell, Colin Moran, Lulu Erkeneff, and Kevin Schulz, to a 2nd–place finish. Meanwhile, Indialantic, FL, competitive powerhouse Nikki Viesins was hard at work in the Girls U18 division.
After a tough heat in the qualifying rounds, where she placed 3rd behind fellow East Coaster Chelsea Tuach from Barbados and Brazil’s Larissa Santos, Nikki was thrown into the Repercharge rounds. But after fighting through five heats, and dominating most of them, she won her way into the finals nonetheless, where she finished 3rd behind Hawaiian phenom Tatiana Weston-Webb and Australia’s Stephanie Single, who took 2nd.
Barbados’s Chelsea Tuach took a more direct route to the Girls U18 division finals, cruising through five qualifying rounds and into the finals on the strength of her smooth style. But the final heat was a bit of a shocker for Chelsea. She proved in earlier heats that she was capable of posting the scores she needed — the 16.17 heat total she posted in the first round would have been more than enough to win her gold, and the 14.00 she threw together in the round right before the finals could have earned her silver. And, in fact, for most of the finals heat, Chelsea was on track for silver. Then an interference call in the last few seconds bumped her down to 4th-place. But she still got a much-deserved spot on the podium and brought home a copper medal as Barbados’s only representative.
Puerto Rico and Jamaica also competed this year and finished 18th and 26th respectively. Though athletes on both teams were eliminated in the first few rounds, they gained invaluable experience and will be back better than ever next year. After all, that’s what the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships are all about, raising the overall level of surfing by encouraging progression, sportsmanship, and pride throughout local surf communities across the globe. And we can’t wait to see what next year has in store for all of our East Coast athletes.