The 2018 VISSLA ISA Junior Championships that begins in Huntington Beach, California today has set several records that bode well for surfing.
The number of countries participating has reached 44, and while that’s good for future growth, what’s even better is that the ISA (International Surfing Association) has provided equal slots for girls and boys.
This comes after the pay parity controversy that started in South Africa from a junior event by the World Surf League earlier this year.
They subsequently decided to equalise pay scales across the board (so to speak).
The ‘lower’ or junior levels have often suffered the worst iniquity, which makes the news even more relevant.
The 154 girls who registered shatters the record of 104 set in 2016, marking an important milestone in the ISA’s journey towards proper gender equality.
A total of 362 of the best Under-18 surfers in the world will be competing for individual and national medals.
If you’ve spotted a little numerical anomaly, you’d be correct. If it’s equal, why 154 girls out of a field of 362?
The slots for participants are equal, but not all countries can find youngsters to fill them. Each country can field three athletes in each of four divisions: Girls and Boys Under-16 and Under-18.
Remember Eric the Eel, the swimmer from Equatorial Guinea, who managed the slowest 100m time in history at the 2000 Olympics but won the hearts of millions? However, in a niche like surfing, small countries may not find a girl to surf for them at all, let alone an “Erica the Eel”.
Guatemala has sent no girls to California – and has not even filled its complement of boys (three Under-18s, but only two Under-16s). Barbados has six boys and two girls.
Channel Islands have five boys, and no girls.
South Africa are fielding a strong and full complement of 12 surfers, but that is made up of just 11 surfers.
What? Well, in the Under-18 Boys, we have Angelo Faulkner, Bryce Du Preez, and Luke John Slijpen.
Under-18 Girls are Tayla De Coning, Gabriella Lailvaux, and Zoe Steyn. Under-16 Boys are Tide-Lee Ireland, Mitch du Preez, and Luke Thompson. The Under-16 Girls comprise Kayla Nogueira, Zoe Steyn and Ceara Knight.
Yes, Zoe Steyn has been incredible in national and regional WSL Africa events, and is the dominant force in both Under-18 and Under-16. Quite an achievement.
To win two golds would be some kind of world record.
Since the inception of a Junior Division in the ISA (1980), the event has produced many future stars, such as legendary surfer Tom Curren, who won the first ISA World Championship.
You also have current WSL Championship Tour stars all coming out of the Juniors factory, such as Gabriel Medina, Julian Wilson, Filipe Toledo, Owen Wright, Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Tyler Wright, and our own Jordy Smith.
Good luck Team SA.
The nine members of the SA Standup Paddleboard team – some of whom are world beaters – are desperately trying to raise funds to get to the ISA SUP World Championships in China from November 23.
The good news is that in return for relinquishing some bucks, you could get Chris Bertish’s Titans of Mavericks big wave board. Email [email protected] with a bid before 5pm on 30 October to stand a chance.
Or visit www.backabuddy.co.za and search for SA SUP team and select who you wish to support.
Today it’s hot, flat, sunny, with a breezy SE puffing moderate to fresh. Muizenberg still looks manky from continuous sea breezes.
Tomorrow, it looks like some 3’ W swell shows in moderate SSE winds – the unwelcome S angle makes it sideshore, while in Muizenberg, it looks mushy and onshore again.