OCEANSIDE–Following a historic week of competition featuring 322 of the world’s best junior surfers from 36 countries, the 2015 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship has come to a close. USA was crowned World Team Champion for this first time in the history of the competition.
Italy’s Leonardo Fioravanti (Boys U-18), France’s Tessa Thyssen (Girls U-18), USA’s Stevie Pittman (Boys U-16) and Hawaii’s Summer Macedo (Girls U-16) prevailed with the Gold Medals in a string of hard-fought Finals in fun and clean conditions at Oceanside Pier.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre spoke to the crowd at the award ceremony following the competition.
“These have been an amazing eight days where the world came together in California to compete in a true World Championship,” said Aguerre. “With 36 countries and 322 surfers, not only did we make history, but we have made friends, progressed junior surfing and bonded as part of the international surfing community. Some of theses surfers now stand a solid chance to become the first ever Olympic Surfers in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”
The highly anticipated Final heats kicked off with the Girls U-16, where Hawaii’s Summer Macedo earned a total of 15 points, building a demanding lead to comfortably win the Gold Medal. Rounding out the heat were Australia’s Macy Callaghan (10.15) with the Silver Medal, Hawaii’s Brisa Hennessey (8.84) with the Bronze Medal and Portugal’s Teresa Bonvalot (7.23) with the Copper.
“This is incredible, especially for my first time competing in the VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship,” exclaimed Macedo. “People have been telling me I could do this. I never believed them but now it actually happened.”
In the U-16 Boys Final, Stevie Pittman (USA) put on an outstanding performance that helped elevate his team into the Gold Medal position. Pittman caught a solid set wave in the final minutes, earning a heat total of 15.86 to surpass the eventual Silver Medalist, Reef Heazlewood (AUS, 12.85). France’s Marco Mignot (11.43) and USA’s John Mel (7) finished with the Bronze and Copper Medals respectively.
“That was a huge goal of mine and to be able to do it in this contest was amazing,” Pittman enthusiastically stated. “Representing USA was awesome. Thanks to everyone, the USA Coaches and the team for helping and supporting me. It has been an amazing week and I’m super excited about how it ended.”
Next was the Girls U-18 Final, which came down to the wire and was decided by less than one point. France’s Tessa Thyssen jumped out to an early lead, with her first two waves proving to be her best, adding up to a total of 12.93. Silver Medalist, Tia Blanco (USA, 12.37), and Bronze Medalist, Frankie Harrer (USA, 10.27), nearly caught up to Thyssen, but never overcame her score. 2014 Gold Medalist, Mahina Maeda (HAW, 8.80), finished in fourth with the Copper Medal.
“This is so cool because it is my last year in the U-18 division. I got a big push from my team. They are amazing,” said Thyssen. “I am so happy to represent France. It was a really hard contest, so I am really stoked to win. I love my team and I love Oceanside.”
In the most anticipated heat of the day, Italy’s Leonardo Fioravanti saved his best performance for last, notching the highest heat score of the entire competition (19.23). Fioravanti came out of the gates firing, scoring a perfect 10-point ride with a radical aerial maneuver followed by another amazing 9.23-point ride. The rest of the field knew that it would take their best effort to catch up to Fioravanti. France’s Nommé Mignot put on an impressive performance and scored a heat total of 17.43, which would have won most other heats of the event, but left Mignot with the Silver Medal. Finishing with the Bronze and Copper was Jake Marshall (USA, 11.17) and Shun Murakami (JPN, 8.24) respectively.
“I’ve been doing the ISA World Juniors for so many years and this year is my last,” said Fioravanti. “I told myself I have to go all in. The final had so many good surfers so I had to go huge. I went for it and made it and I am so happy.”
“It’s huge for Italy! We’re not a big surfing country. To bring this home for Italy it’s the biggest thing ever. I’m an Italian World Champion, I’m so stoked!”
As the 2015 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship has come to a close, the world’s best junior surfers have the 2016 edition to look forward to. The 2016 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship will take place from September 17-24, 2016 in the Azores islands of Portugal.