Junior Boys kick off first heats of competition in Olympic era
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The 2016 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship was officially declared open in the town of Ribeira Grande in the Azores, marking the largest gathering of junior surfers in the history of the event.
Following the Opening Ceremony, 12 heats of U-18 Boys and U-16 boys took to the water in each of the event’s two podiums, kicking off the first edition of the competition in the era of Olympic Surfing.
In attendance at the Opening Ceremony were 371 athletes from 39 National Surfing Teams that travelled from around the world to compete for Gold Medals and represent their nation. Dignitaries present included Dr. Alexandre Gaudencio, the Mayor of Ribeira Grande, Vitor Fraga, Azores Secretary of Tourism and Transportation, and João Aranha, President of the Portuguese Surfing Federation.
The ceremony began with the Parade of Nations, as each National Surfing Team marched through the town of Ribeira Grande waving their national flags while echoing cheers through the town’s narrow streets.
Upon arriving to the Opening Ceremony stage the Portuguese National Anthem greeted the international competitors.
Two members from each team participated in the Sands of the World Ceremony and took to the main stage pouring sand from their local beach into a container while waving their national flag. The Sands of the World Ceremony symbolizes the peaceful gathering nations of the world through surfing.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre, who was unable to attend the event due to medical issues with his back, addressed the crowd in front of Ribeira Grande’s town hall:
“I would like to give a warm welcome to all of the National Surfing Teams that have come here from all five continents of the world. This is the largest VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in history and the first in the era of Olympic Surfing. Being a surfer is now a route to becoming an Olympic athlete.
“This coming week we will show the world how surfers celebrate in competition. I would like to wish the best of luck to the athletes in the event and that at the end of this week they go home as ambassadors of the Azores.”
After the festivities at the Opening Ceremony, the first heats of competition proceeded at Praia do Monte Verde. The U-18 and U-16 Boys gave the international field of competitors their first taste of the world-class level of surfing that will be seen for the week to come.
Spain’s Luis Diaz (15.1) and France’s Thomas Debierre (17.6) were the stand out surfers in the Boys U-18 and U-16 division, respectively, earning the highest heat totals of the day.
The surfers that placed first and second in their heats will move onto Round 2 of the Main Event, whereas those who placed third and fourth will fall into Repechage Rounds. Due to the record number of competitors, the event will only feature two Repechage Rounds, moving into a single elimination format starting in Round 3.
Morocco’s Badaoui Abderrahim, who was faced with the difficult task of competing in the U-18 Boys’ first heat of the day, was unable to advance, but he expressed his positive feelings and after the heat:
“I feel great to be here but I was a little nervous being in the first heat of the competition. I just need to relax and get some good scores. My goal at this competition is keep improving and gain experience so I can qualify to compete for Morocco in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”
Smaller swell for the second day of competition on Sunday. On Monday and Tuesday, the swell is expected to pick up with a new long period swell arriving late Tuesday afternoon, set to provide large surf on Wednesday. Surfline.
The full results from the first day of competition can be viewed here: http://isaworlds.com/juniors/2016/en/results/
The schedule for the second day of competition is the following:
- 8am – 1:20pm: 16 heats U-18 Girls Round 1
- 1:20pm – 6:20pm: 15 heats U-18 Boys Round 1
- 8:00am – 1:20pm: 16 heats U-16 Girls Round 1
- 1:20pm – 6:20pm: 15 heats U-16 Boys Round 1
Times in Azores Standard Time.
Tune in to watch the live action on www.isaworlds.com.