Team Gold Medal Race Heats Up on Day 4 of 2024 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Junior Surfing Championship

May 7th, 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 78, 2024

A fourth consecutive day of pumping surf lit up Surf City El Salvador for the 2024 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship (WJSC). Clean, four-to-six foot swell with occasional bigger sets was torn apart by the incredible field of the world’s best junior surfers who are present in pursuit of gold medals for themselves and for their team.

Main Event Rounds 2 and 3 were completed in each division, significantly narrowing the draw in the top end of competition. Meanwhile the first few heats of repechage began, seeing the first surfers eliminated.

Lukas Skinner, Team England / Photo: Sean Evans

For the second time this week, 2023 Boy’s U/16 silver medalist Lukas Skinner (ENG) took top honors, posting a 9.23, the highest single wave score of the event so far for his division, as well as the highest heat total of the day for the boy’s, 16.90, his second excellent heat total of the event. The smooth and dynamic surfing of the 16-year-old adapted incredibly well to the shifting peaks of La Bocana as he smashed and floated his way to the giant score.

“I didn’t have priority and I just wanted to catch waves so I paddled deep and the wave came and it was such a nug,” Skinner said. “I had one similar in the freesurfs when I was here before with dad, and I just felt so comfortable out there and so stoked. I trusted what I could do, I trusted my boards and it feels so good.”

Zoie Zietz (NED) can’t get enough of the waves in El Salvador, which is good, as she surfed in three heats today, earning the highest heat total of the event so far in Girl’s U/16 Main Event Round 3. The right pointbreak of El Sunzal allowed Zietz to deliver strong rail work on her forehand to earn a 9.10 and an 8.87 for a huge 17.97 heat total.

“Hearing them say 9 really felt good, you know,” Zietz said. “I was paddling back out with all the adrenaline and then I hear I got a 9, it’s really nice. The waves are firing here and it’s so fun. I’m definitely psyching on these point breaks, they’re so awesome, there’s such good waves right now.

Sofia Artieda, Team Peru / Photo: Jersson Barboza

The race for the team world championship heats up as Main Event Rounds narrow

As the Main Event progresses, 21 of the 54 original national teams have at least one surfer appearing in Main Round 4. Of those, two nations have set themselves apart with the most surfers remaining, Australia and Peru, who each have six surfers in the top end of the draw, though one Peruvian, Catalina Zariquiey, accounts for two numbers as she appears in both girls divisions.

Peru were Team World Champions in 2011, while Australia has the record of seven team gold medals, including a stretch of five in-a-row from 2006-2010. Despite this, Australia hasn’t won since 2013, though they’ve earned team medals every year in between, except for 2019, including silver in 2016 and 2022. This year however, the team has set themselves as the clear frontrunners.

Dane Henry took top honors for the Australians today, earning three 8-point rides in his 20 minute heat, all on the strength of his rail surfing, though he hinted that his air game is ready to be released when required. Meanwhile, Eden Hasson, Fletcher Kelleher, Ziggy Mackenzie, and Maverick Wilson all again earned strong heat wins of their own and Ocean Lancaster had another solid showing.

A step behind those two national teams, 2023 gold medalists Brazil are keeping pace with six others, including 2022 gold medalists Hawaii, who won here in Surf City El Salvador.

Hawaii’s Rylan Beavers surfed an incredible heat this morning, earning multiple high scores, highlighted by an 8.67. A member of the gold-winning team in 2022, Beavers is aware of his new status as a leader within the 2024 squad.

“When I came here the first time I was in the younger division and we had a bunch of hammers in the older division and they kind of carried our team a bit,” Beavers said. “Now that me and Luke Tema and Jackson (Dorian) are the oldest, we’ve all realized we’ve got to carry, so that’s what we’re here to do.”

Tai Murphy, Team New Zealand / Photo: Pablo Jimenez

In final year as a junior, Tai Murphy represents New Zealand for first time, drops highest single wave score of Boy’s U/18

Narrowly missing out on making the New Zealand team for many years, Tai Murphy is stoked just to be in El Salvador in his final year as a junior. His trip was made a lot better today after posting the highest single wave score of Boy’s U/18 so far, an 8.83, to progress into Main Event Round 4. The progression sees the 18-year-old as one of 16 surfers left in his division’s Main Event, out of an initial draw of 123. Murphy kept solid heat control ahead of 2023 U/16 gold medalist Hans Odriozola (ESP) to be comfortably in the lead before an extremely critical end section hit delivered his high score in the final moment.

“I actually didn’t even know the score until just now, that’s sick,” Murphy said. “I’m stoked with that heat. It was fun and the waves were pumping. It doesn’t get much better. The support is amazing from all the boys and everyone, the whole team, and it’s real sick, a cool team environment. I’m loving El Salvador. It’s really hot, but it’s good.”

Competition will resume tomorrow at 7:00am CST with the continuation of Boy’s U/18 Repechage Round 1 at La Bocana and Girl’s U/18 Repechage Round 1 at El Sunzal.

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