BALLITO, KWAZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 1: Daniel Emslie of South Africa surfs in Heat 3 of the Round of 32 at the O’Neill SMTH Shapes Ballito Pro Junior on July 1, 2021 at Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. (Photo by Pierre Tostee/World Surf League).

Emerging Talents and World-Class Wildcards Prepare for World Junior Title Campaigns

Sky Brown gets wildcard and surfs representing GB.

Rising star Sierra Kerr (AUS) put on a showcase of progression and power at last year’s World Junior Championships. She will enter this year’s event ranked No. 1 for the Australia/Oceania region. Talia Swindal (USA), Kana Nakashio (JPN), Isabelle Nalu (BRA), and Louise Lepront (RSA) also lead their respective regions going into Oceanside. Swindal earned her first WSL Pro Junior Finals appearances during the 2023 season. She now looks to carry that momentum into the Qualifying Series and World Junior Championships.

“It’s insane just being able to be in the scene with everyone at the World Juniors, and if you win, you get to qualify for the Challenger Series,” said Swindal. “I’m just so excited to see how the waves are and compete. The way it all happened for me to qualify for World Juniors was insane, and I ended up winning the season. The goal for me was just to qualify for this event, but to win the rankings was extra special.”

Surf skate phenom and former British Olympic medalist Sky Brown has received a wildcard.

The Basque Country will be represented by sister duo, Europe’s No. 1Annette Gonzalez Etxabarri (EUK) and No. 2 Janire Gonzalez Etxabarri (EUK). The Extabarri sisters will look to keep the World Junior Championships title in Europe after Francisca Veselko (POR) earned a big win in 2023.

Nora Liotta (HAW) recently confirmed her spot as Hawaii/Tahiti Nui’s frontrunner in the World Junior Championships by placing third at the Haleiwa Pro.

“It means so much to make it to the World Junior Championships,” said Liotta. “I feel so grateful to be able to represent Maui and feel so much support from everyone there. I have so much more belief in myself and my abilities after this year, and it has helped me compete so much.”

GOLD COAST, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA – MAY 9: Sierra Kerr of Australia surfs in Heat 1 of the Round of 48 at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro on May 9, 2023 at Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. (Photo by Cait Miers/World Surf League)

A stacked men’s field includes event wildcard and defending World Junior Champion, Jarvis Earle (AUS). Respective Pro Junior Regional victors Mitch Du Preez (RSA), Monnojo Yahagi (JPN), Harley Walters (AUS), Sam Piter(FRA), and Reed Platenius (CAN) all have their sight set on claiming their first World Junior Championships victory and etching their name into surfing history.

“It’s still hard for me to believe, it kind of just came as a shock to me, and when it finally sunk in, I realized I actually won the region,” said Platenius. “It’s just an honor to be in the event. It would mean everything for my country and my hometown to win it. I live in a small town, and to see the people who were kind of mentors, just good people, supporting me is amazing.”

WSL South America’s Pro Junior Regional victor, Ryan Kainalo (BRA), showed a glimpse of his capabilities at the 2022 World Junior Championships. Now, after another successful year on the QS and a wildcard into the Corona Saquarema Pro Challenger Series event Kainalo is back for more.

Shion Crawford (HAW) recently established himself as Hawaii/Tahiti Nui’s leading man, securing his spot in the World Junior Championships after finishing fourth at the Haleiwa Pro.

World-Class Talents and Wildcards In Attendance, Full Competitor List Announced

A plethora of world-class wildcards including 2024 Championship Tour (CT) rookie Alyssa Spencer (USA) and 2023 Challenger Series standouts Joel Vaughan (AUS), Erin Brooks (CAN), and Jett Schilling (USA) will all look to upset the competition. Wildcard selections were based on 2023 SAMBAZON World Junior Championships results, Challenger Series rankings, and QS rankings.

2023 Women’s World Junior Championships Regional Qualifiers
Louis Lepront (RSA)
Anastasia Venter (RSA)
Kana Nakashio (JPN)
Cocona Kawase (JPN)
Sierra Kerr (AUS)
Keira Buckpitt (AUS)
Annette Gonzalez Etxabarri (EUK)
Janire Gonzalez Etxabarri (EUK)
Nora Liotta (HAW)
Erin Brooks (CAN)
Isabelle Nalu (BRA)
Kalea Gervasi (PER)
Talia Swindal (USA)
Sawyer Lindblad (USA)

Event Wildcards
Alyssa Spencer (USA)
Sophia Medina (BRA)
Ellie Harrison (AUS)
Bella Kenworthy (USA)
Zoe Benedetto (USA)
Zahli Kelly (AUS)
Sol Aguirre (PER)
Sky Brown (GBR)
Nanaho Tsuzuki (JPN)
Laura Raupp (BRA)

2023 Men’s World Junior Championships Regional Qualifiers
Mitch Du Preez (RSA)
Luc Le Pront (RSA)
Monnojo Yahagi (JPN)
Yuma Nagasawa (JPN)
Harley Walters (AUS)
Luke Brumby (AUS)
Sam Piter (FRA)
Elay Bochan (ISR)
Shion Crawford (HAW)
Jackson Bunch (HAW)
Ryan Kainalo (BRA)
Heitor Mueller (BRA)
Reed Platenius (CAN)
Levi Slawson (USA)

Event Wildcards
Jarvis Earle (AUS)
Jett Schilling (USA)
Joel Vaughan (AUS)
Luke Thompson (RSA)
Leo Casal (BRA)
Taj Lindblad (USA)
Brodi Sale (HAW)
Tenshi Iwami (JPN)
Adur Amatriain (EUK)
Marlon Harrison (AUS)