Performances Pushed as Pressure Mounts on Day 5 of the 2023 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship

November 29th, 2023

Australia takes the lead in team rankings ahead of France, Brazil, Japan and USA

Annette Extabarri (ESP) and Wheeler Hasburgh (CAN) perform when it counts

Endless excitement on day of buzzer beaters

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – November 28, 2023

The world’s best juniors were put to the test on day five of the 2023 ISA World Junior Championship (WJSC). A dropping swell, combined with the fact that every heat left in the event is straight elimination, placed utmost importance on every small decision. While the pressure got to some, the frontrunners didn’t lose a beat, rising to the occasion and proving exactly why they are the favorites.

Five teams started the day fully intact; Australia, USA, Japan, Brazil, and defending champions Hawaii. Within an hour each team had seen their first surfers eliminated and by the end of the day Australia had asserted themselves on top, ahead of France, Brazil, Japan and USA.

Team Australia have certainly started out strong. Keira Buckpitt earned yet another solid heat win to kick off the day in Girl’s U/18, while Sierra Kerr and Isla Huppatz both posted solid numbers yet again in Girl’s U/16. Fletcher Kelleher once again stood out in Boy’s U/16, as did Lennix Smith in Boy’s U/18.

Surprisingly 2022 U/16 Gold Medalist Willis Droomer (AUS) was the first to go down from Team Australia when Pierre Lamothe (FRA) came out firing to progress, along with Oliver Zietz (NED).

Team Australia. Photo: Pablo Jimenez

After drawing an interference from Alani Morse (NZL) in Round 1, Annette Extabarri (ESP) faced the Kiwi for the second time in the event today. With limited waves on offer, Extabarri was able to capitalize on the wave of the day, making the moment count to earn an 8.67.

“I was actually more nervous of [Alani] being very active, of what she could do,” Extabarri said. “But I knew I was going to be able to showcase my surfing. There’s pressure in this surf to be able to catch waves and I was lucky to get two.”

Annette Etxabarri, Team Spain. Photo: Jersson Barboza

With 15-minute heats and opportunity diminishing with the tide, buzzer beaters were the order of the day. Brazilians Ryan Coelho and Anuar Chiah each found the scores they needed to progress in Boy’s U/16 right at the end of their back-to-back heats, resulting in huge back-to-back celebrations from their team on the beach.

For the second time this event 2022 U/16 Silver Medalist Inigo Madina (FRA) left it till the final moments to take the win. A few heats earlier Candelaria Resano (NCA) had done almost the exact same thing. Resano flipped an incredibly tight heat, earning two scores within less than a minute to progress with Estela Lopez (CHI), resulting in the elimination of all three Hawaiians in Girl’s U/18, Naomi SaenzMalia Lima and Haylee Boverman, within the space of an hour.

Passion turned to heartbreak for Thiago Passeri (ARG) who thought he had found a buzzer beater, only to discover he had stood up after the heat had ended. It was all the more devastating with less than a point separating Mateo Christodulu (GRE) in first and Passeri in fourth.

Wheeler Hasburgh, Team Canada. Photo: Pablo Jimenez

It wasn’t until the 14th heat of the day that the first excellent score appeared, and Wheeler Hasburgh (CAN) couldn’t have been happier to be the person to claim it, earning an 8.50 for a well- executed wave with a strong finish.

“That felt amazing,” Hasburgh said. “I haven’t really put a good heat on yet, so I was just so happy, like I was so emotional in the water, I was slapping it. I was like, ‘Yes, finally!’ This is my favorite event so there’s just so much passion and I just feel like I could express myself.”

For the second day in a row, 16-year-old Teresa Pereira (POR) rose to the occasion, using impressive heat management to earn a 6.67, one of the highest single wave scores of the day.

“For sure I feel a little bit stressed,” Pereira said. “But the goal is to make the heat. When the wave comes you can’t stress out because there’s not that much opportunities, so when you get the wave you can’t be nervous and you gotta surf as best as you can.”

The next call for the 2023 WJSC will be at 7:30am BRT.

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