Standouts Begin to Emerge on Day 3 of 2024 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Junior Surfing Championship

May 6th, 2024

Huge swell once again provides for incredible performances from the world’s best junior surfers 

Select few push through in both U/16 and U/18 divisions, led by Romeo Chavez (COL), Catalina Zariquiey (PER), Siqi Yang (CHN) and Tya Zebrowski (FRA)

Australian teammates Ocean Lancaster and Fletcher Kelleher slot above and below 2023 silver medalist Lukas Skinner (ENG) for the best numbers of the boys

Surf City El Salvador – May 6, 2024

The world’s best junior surfers faced incredible power and size from the relentless swell pouring into Surf City El Salvador for day three of the 2024 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship. A solid six-to-eight foot of swell pushed into the dual podiums of La Bocana and El Sunzal, and it was once again matched by outstanding performances.

The final heats of Main Event Round 1 in each of the four divisions gave way to the completion of Main Event Round 2 in Girl’s U/16 and Boy’s U/18, as well as the beginning of Main Event Round 2 in Girl’s U/18 and Boy’s U/16.

Early highlights came from Dylan Donegan (ESP) and Alexis Owen (NZL), who each appeared for the first time in Boy’s U/16 Main Event Round 1 at El Sunzal, Donegan posting an 8.93, Owen an 8.27. Later in the day Massimo Bienz (SUI) had a breakout performance in Main Event Round 2, earning an 8.67 for a critical and flowing two-turn combo on his backhand at La Bocana.

Catalina Zariquiey, Team Peru / Photo: Pablo Jimenez

Out of the 441 athletes appearing in the 2024 WJSC, a total of 37 athletes are surfing in both the U/16 and U/18 divisions. 18 boys, representing 13 national teams, and 19 girls, representing 14 national teams, will potentially have a long journey ahead as they juggle heats across two divisions that feature a variety of ages and talent and two different podiums that involve contrasting waves.

Six girls out of the 19 were able to make it through Main Event Round 1 in both divisions, Ocea Green (CAN), Siqi Yang (CHN), Tya Zebrowski (FRA), Zoie Zietz (NED), Catalina Zariquiey (PER) and Kahili Simon (TAH). Zebrowski and Yang once again had strong showings today, each posting scores in the excellent 8-point range in their respective U/16 heats, while Zariquiey collected the highest single wave score of the day for the girls, a 9.30, along with the highest heat total, 16.47. Though the 15-year-old Peruvian likely has a long few days ahead of her, she has been able to pick up notable wins in each of her three heats surfed so far.

“I’m super happy,” Zariquiey said. “There’s really good waves here and I love it here. This is like the fifth time I think I am here in this country, it’s amazing. I’m super happy to be competing in both divisions and I’m super confident. It was awesome (to get the 9.30). The wave was amazing, it was a big wave and it felt incredible to catch that wave.”

Meanwhile, only a single boy out of the 18 was able to accomplish the same feat, Romeo Chavez (COL). Not only did Chavez make it through Round 1 in both divisions, today the 15-year-old made it through Round 2 in both, surfing two heats barely 40 minutes apart, first in U/18 at El Sunzal and then in U/16 at La Bocana, earning 8-point rides in both locations. He even had to go through the ordeal of breaking his leash at El Sunzal.

“It wasn’t easy, it was tough,” Chavez said. “The main thing I had to focus on was knowing that I have the surfing and believe in myself in order to be able to do it. I did break my leash at El Sunzal, so that made it even harder, but just knowing that I was able to accomplish what I accomplished over there gave me the confidence to come over here and just surf the heat, especially when I was already in rhythm and kind of in that place where my body was already in transition of competing. So that made it way easier. But in the end it just comes down to my equipment and the confidence that I have in my surfing.”

Ocean Lancaster, Team Australia / Photo: Pablo Jimenez

Australian teammates Ocean Lancaster and Fletcher Kelleher slot above and below 2023 silver medalist Lukas Skinner (ENG) for the best numbers of the boys

Ocean Lancaster (AUS) jumped straight to the top of the highest numbers for the boys in his U/16 Main Round 2 heat, sliding in just above Lukas Skinner (ENG), the 2023 Boy’s U/16 silver medalist who absolutely blitzed his opening match-up to post a 17.00 two wave total in the final heat of day two. The 15-year-old Australian delivered a strong three-turn combo on his backhand on the left of La Bocana to earn a 9.50, the highest single wave score of the boys divisions so far, turning in a 17.43 heat total, which was also the highest for the boys.

“I chose to ride a step-up today, so definitely well worth it,” Lancaster said. “I didn’t think it was going to be as powerful as it was, but as you can tell I’m really puffing a lot, so it definitely challenged me. But it felt good to be able to put three turns on one wave and ride out and get a big score, so I’m happy with it.”

Teammate Fletcher Kelleher (AUS) again put himself amongst the day’s top performances, picking up two 8-point rides to earn his first excellent heat total of the event, 16.80, the highest heat total of Boy’s U/18 so far, an 8.50 also being the highest single wave score of his division.

Victoria Muñoz, Team Argentina / Photo: Sean Evans

The arrival of giant swell during Victoria Muñoz’s heat leaves the Argentinian nonplussed

Huge sets started pouring in halfway through Girl’s U/16 Main Event Round 2 Heat 8, leaving Mel Conhoto (POR), Cristina Del Llano (ESP), Luara Mandelli (BRA) and Victoria Muñoz (ARG) needing to navigate an entirely new lineup. Muñoz was able to manage positioning the best, holding herself in place as triple-overhead 8-foot sets bombarded through, to catch the first excellent ride of the day in her division. An extremely well-timed and critical two-turn combo earned her an 8.17 and the heat win.

“I was able to withstand the set,” Muñoz said. “Luckily I had already trained in conditions like this and had a similar scenario with a big set, so I managed to stay on point, and then when it calmed down a little I closed in more and managed to grab that 8.17, which was good. It brings me a lot of joy and a lot of passion to be a part of Team Argentina. The extra add-on is that I have great teammates who elevate this experience.”

Competition will resume tomorrow at 7:00am CST with the continuation of Boy’s U/16 Main Event Round 2 at La Bocana and Girl’s U/18 Main Event Round 2 at El Sunzal.

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