Australia Win Eighth Team World Championship at 2024 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Junior Surfing Championship

May 12th, 2024

Hawaii wins team silver medal, France, bronze, USA, copper

Dane Henry becomes first Australian to win Boy’s U/18 World Title in 15 years, Dylan Donegan makes it back-to-back for Spain in U/16

Vaihiti Inso (HAW) and Ziggy Mackenzie (AUS) join long legacy of World Champions to represent their teams

Surf City El Salvador – May 12, 2024

An incredible Finals Day capped off the 2024 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Junior Surfing Championship (WJSC) where Australia, the winningest team in ISA World Junior history, broke a drought of 11 years to take one of the most commanding victories seen in ISA competition.

Individual gold medals for Dane Henry and Ziggy Mackenzie were backed up by a silver medal for Fletcher Kelleher and copper for Milla Brown. But the performance of their entire team was so strong that victory was almost secured before Finals Day even began, and a heat win for Brown, backed by Willow Hardy’s performance, in Girl’s U/18 Repechage Round 9 was enough to see Australia take the Team gold medal long before the Grand Finals began.

The conditions were near-perfect for World Champions to be crowned. Clean, four-to-six foot peaks at La Bocana made the entire lineup look like a playground, and with the wind holding off, Surf City El Salvador delivered endless opportunities for the world’s best junior surfers to earn their historic wins.

Team Australia / Photo: Pablo Jimenez

The Boy’s U/18 Round 5 kicked off Main Event action for the day, hitting the water as the wind started blowing straight into the La Bocana rights, essentially activating video-game mode for Dane Henry (AUS). A lofty air reverse earned the Australian an 8.77, before a near-make of one of his famous backflips almost saw the 17-year-old picking up another giant score. His two wave total of 16.20 arrived as his third excellent heat total of the event.

The beginning of Henry’s heat saw 2023 Boy’s U/16 gold medalist Hans Odriozola (ESP) and South Africa’s Simon Winter tangled on a La Bocana peak, which landed them each with a non-priority interference, ultimately sending both surfers to repechage, where Winter hung on to still advance to Finals Day, but Odriozola was eliminated.

The extremely stacked Boy’s U/18 Repechage 8 Heat that took Odriozola out also ended Jackson Dorian’s (HAW) campaign, after teammate Rylan Beavers (HAW) picked up a last-minute score to advance behind Eden Hasson (AUS), who earned a total of three big repechage heat wins today.

Dane Henry, Team Australia / Photo: Pablo Franco

Not only did Australia as a team break a long gap in victory, but Dane Henry (AUS) became the first Australian to win Boy’s U/18 in 15 years. Though Henry’s performances all week were the talk of the event, most notably the only perfect-10 of the competition, a lull in waves during the Main Event Final saw him sent to the Repechage Final after only putting a single score on the board. Learning his lesson, the 17-year-old stayed active in his next two heats, catching more waves than anyone in both, capped off by a 9.23 in the Grand Final.

“This is the best moment of my life,” Henry said. “Before the Semis we heard that we got the gold and got the official confirmation and we did a big ring of fire. It’s just all come together after 10 years of us not winning gold. I just can’t believe it. I’m lost for words. It’s been the best experience of my life and I’m so grateful to be captaining this awesome Australian team.”

Despite posting the highest heat total of the event in his Repechage Round 9 heat, 18.17, Rickson Falcão (BRA) was unable to create the same magic in the Grand Final, and had to settle for the bronze medal after Henry’s teammate Fletcher Kelleher (AUS) scored an 8.10 on his final wave to take the silver and make it one-two for Australia in Boy’s U/18, with Ikko Watanabe (JPN) earning the copper medal.

Ziggy Mackenzie, Team Australia / Photo: Sean Evans

Ziggy Mackenzie’s (AUS) road to the Final was made smoother after she took a wave in her Girl’s U/16 Main Event Final with 1 second to go. Needing a 6.54, the 15-year-old grabbed a 6.57 to guarantee herself a medal. In an extremely tight final, a 6.83 from Mackenzie proved to be the high point and when her backup of a 5.93 arrived late in the heat, it was enough to seal the deal and plant her name as a World Junior Champion alongside fellow Australians Stephanie Gilmore and Tyler Wright.

“I’m so stoked, Mackenzie said. “I feel like all the work that I’ve put in and all the support from the Australian team has all come together. I think everyone was so excited but so nervous at the same time coming into this event. We’ve got such a strong team and we really wanted to just push and push as hard as we can. We’re on top and I’m so stoked for the team.”

Two of last year’s medalists found themselves in back-to-back Finals, with 2023 bronze medalist Eden Walla (USA) earning copper and 2023 copper medalist Clémence Schorsch (FRA) taking silver, while Louise Lepront (RSA) won bronze, the first South African girl to earn a medal since Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games silver medalist Bianca Buitendag won silver in 2011.

Dylan Donegan, Team Spain / Photo: Pablo Franco

Spain’s Dylan Donegan backed up teammate Hans Odriozola’s 2023 gold medal when he became U/16 World Champion. Both Donegan and Odriozola claimed their wins over Lukas Skinner (ENG), who once again won the silver medal. Donegan won each of his seven heats surfed this week, flaring most when it counted. An 8.17 for a backhand two-turn combo that featured a critical second closeout hit was backed up by a 7.13 for a 15.30 heat total.

“I’m really, really happy,” Donegan said. “It feels amazing. Just to even qualify for the team in Spain is really, really hard. I haven’t put it in my mind yet, I guess I’m going to have to and enjoy the moment and when it’s on me I’ll just probably go crazy.”

An impassioned performance from Thiago Passeri saw the Argentinian win the first Boy’s U/16 medal for his nation, the bronze, while the first New Zealand boy to win a medal since 2007, Alexis Owen (NZL), notched his name alongside Ricardo Christie and Matt Hewitt.

Vaihiti Inso, Team Hawaii / Photo: Jersson Barboza

Hawaiian girls account for the most gold medals in the WJSC, and Vaihiti Inso continued that tradition when she won the 11th gold medal for Hawaii. The new U/18 World Champion was proud to represent her team and her culture with the victory, but was also thrilled to display a solid show of surfing. Winning the Grand Final with an 8.50 and 8.17, largely on the strength of her powerful and stylish forehand carves on the lefts of La Bocana, her 16.67 heat total left her fellow finalists in need of near-perfection to reach her.

“I’m almost speechless,” Inso said. “Honestly my main goal was not the result but just to put on a good performance and I hope I did that. I love surfing and before there was no lefts and all of a sudden the lefts just came that way. So mahalo ke Akua for the waves and God for everything.”

After impressive performances across both U/16 and U/18, 2022 U/16 copper medalist Tya Zebrowski (FRA) was able to add an U/18 silver medal to her count, with Sara Freyre (USA) and Milla Brown (AUS) winning the bronze and silver medals respectively.

ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said:

“What an incredible week. Some of the best waves in the history of our ISA events in El Salvador, and we have had many. It’s been a great partnership with the government of El Salvador. Thank you to President Bukele and thank you to the people of El Salvador for receiving us as warm as ever.

“Congratulations to all the medalists. You are now going home as champions, and the top surfers in the world in the junior divisions. Some of you will be in the Olympics this year, just 75 days away, in Tahiti. Most of you will not, but most of you have the opportunity to be in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.”


Team Rankings
Gold – Australia
Silver – Hawaii
Bronze – France
Copper – USA

Boy’s U/16
Gold – Dylan Donegan (ESP)
Silver – Lukas Skinner (ENG)
Bronze – Thiago Passeri (ARG)
Copper – Alexis Owen (NZL)

Girl’s U/16
Gold – Ziggy Mackenzie (AUS)
Silver – Clémence Schorsch (FRA)
Bronze – Louise Le Pront (RSA)
Copper – Eden Walla (USA)

Boy’s U/18
Gold – Dane Henry (AUS)
Silver – Fletcher Kelleher (AUS)
Bronze – Rickson Falcão (BRA)
Copper – Ikko Watanabe (JPN)

Girl’s U/18
Gold – Vaihiti Inso (HAW)
Silver – Tya Zebrowski (FRA)
Bronze – Sara Freyre (USA)
Copper – Milla Brown (AUS)

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