The surf breaks of Okuragahama Beach in Miyazaki, Kyushu are set to welcome the world’s top junior surfers Saturday at the 2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championships.
The popular surf spot in southern Kyushu will host a long-awaited return to Japan of an ISA (International Surfing Association) organized contest after 1990’s World Surfing Games became the first event of its kind to be held in Japan and Asia. In the 27 years since the contest in Chiba, surfing has grown in popularity across the country with the sport gaining entry into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The World Junior Surfing Championships is the largest junior surf contest on the calendar with last year’s event, held in the Azores (Portugal), braking participation records with some 371 athletes from 39 countries contesting the gold medals. This year’s contest in Kyushu looks set to take those numbers even higher with a provisional roster of around 600 surfers from around 50 countries set to compete. As hosts, Team Japan will be hoping to build on their successful campaign in 2016 which saw them place 4th on the team standings, their highest placing to date behind only France, Australia and Hawaii.
The World Junior Surfing Championships dates back to 1980 when Australian surfing legend Tom Carroll took out the gold medal at the inaugural event. Since then some of the world’s top professional surfers have gone on to claim gold including current Championship Tour regulars Jordy Smith, Gabriel Medina, Julian Wilson, Stephanie Gilmore and Tyler Wright.
The 2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championships will be held over a 9-day waiting period from Saturday Sep. 23 to Sunday Oct. 1 at Okuragahama Beach on the Hyuga Coast in Hinata City, Miyazaki Prefecture. Male and female draws will be divided into two classes - 18 and under, and 16 and under.