Big Swell Delivers Upsets and Action on Day 2 of the 2023 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship

November 26th, 2023

Event’s first excellent heat totals earned by Anon Matsuoka (JPN) and Fletcher Kelleher (AUS)

Local knowledge pays off for Brazil’s Ryan Kainalo

Strong opening to final WJSC campaign for future Olympian Sanoa Olin (CAN)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – November 26, 2023

An overnight increase in swell delivered pumping, four-to-six feet peaks to Praia da Macumba, providing an exciting and challenging day of competition at the 2023 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship (WJSC). Main Round 1 was completed in Boy’s U/16, along with both U/18 divisions.

Anon Matsuoka (JPN) found the highest heat total of the day in Girl’s U/18, claiming the highest single wave score of the event so far in the process, a 9.33. In the Boy’s U/18, João Mendonça (POR) found the top numbers, with a 15.77 heat total.

It was Australia’s Fletcher Kelleher in Boy’s U/16 who really set the field ablaze however. In his first-ever ISA heat, on his first trip to Brazil, the 16-year-old went to town, earning the highest single wave score of his division, a 9.17, and highest heat total of the event so far, 17.17.

Ryan Kainalo, Team Brazil. Photo: Pablo Jimenez

The strength of a wide range of nations was displayed as surfers from top seeded teams, including Jackson Dorian (HAW), Talia Swindal (USA) and Arena Rodriguez (PER), were relegated to the repechage rounds by representatives of lower-ranked national teams.

In Boy’s U/18 the mother of Canadian twin brothers Jonas and Jackson Meskis arrived in Brazil just in time to see her sons progress in back-to-back heats, on her birthday no less. Meanwhile, all three French competitors in Girl’s U/18, Sarah LeiceagaAnaïs Blanchard, and Zoe Jaeckin earned heat wins with top scores of 7.50.

One of home team Brazil’s medal hopefuls, Ryan Kainalo (BRA) had a great start. Surfing in the third heat of the morning, the 17-year-old recognized the lowering tide was changing the lineup and adjusted accordingly, sitting 50m south of where everyone else had been situated. The move paid off after he nailed the turn of the day for an 8.00 ride.

“The first heat is the most difficult one because you have all the pressure,” Kainalo said. “It’s a big day, there’s big waves and strong waves and if you make one big turn you’re going to have a score. It’s pretty special for all the team [to have the event here]. Everyone is welcome for us.”

Sanoa Olin, Team Canada. Photo: Jersson Barboza

Entering her fifth and final WJSC, Sanoa Olin (CAN) is appreciating everything the event has to offer. Having earned Paris 2024 Olympic Games qualification after claiming the silver medal at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games last month, the 18-year-old is enjoying surfing free of pressure and that approach is already working well. Her first ride in the event scored an excellent 8.00, one of the highest of the day for Girl’s U/18.

“I’m definitely feeling pretty free in this event and just super grateful to be here, it’s my last one,” Olin said. “The ISA Juniors, they’re such a special event for me. They’re like the first international contest I ever did when I was 11 in the Azores. I feel like this event has taught me so much about competing and it gave me the experiences to develop the surfing and the competing that I have today.”

The 2023 WJSC will continue tomorrow at 6:30 am BRT at Praia da Macumba.

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