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Kauai well-respresented at world surfing championships

Six of the 12 participants at the Quiksilver International Surfing Association World Jr. Surfing Championships are from the Garden Isle.

With the competition beginning today and running through, May 14, Kaua‘i surfers Alex Smith, Kyle Ramey, Nathan Rex, Dylan Melamed, Tyler Newton, and Bethany Hamilton will try bring a second consecutive title back to the 50th state.

The event is being held in Brazil for the first time with a record 28 national teams competing, one more than last year’s highly successful event at Huntington Beach, California.

The prestigious junior event has seen a steady climb in numbers since 16 countries competed in the inaugural event in South Africa in 2003, which increased to 23 in Tahiti the following year.

Each country is represented by four athletes competing in the boys under 18 division, four in the boys under 16 division and four in the girls under 18 division.

The scores of the top three athletes per division are added up to reach the final ranking to decide the World Junior Surfing Champion Team.

The Brazilian Surfing Confederation, the national governing body for all the sport of surfing in Brazil is hosting the event.

“We are very proud to organize the event in Brazil. CBS is the host of this event and the National Sports Department, the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) and the São Sebastião City Hall have lent their very important support. The Maresias waves will be surfed by the best junior surfers on the planet, so it’s going to be a great event for sure,” CBS president Juca de Barros said in a press release.

“It’s very important to thank Quiksilver, which is sponsoring the event, and also Fernando Aguerre, the International Surfing Association (ISA) president who believed in us and our hard work. He gave us his support to organize this important competition,” Barros, who is also the Pan-American Surfing Association (PASA) vice-president, said.

ISA president Fernando Aguerre said the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships are the most important event in the world for the junior division.

“Representing a national team is the greatest honor for an athlete in any sport. Most importantly in Brazil is that surfing is the second most important sport after football (soccer),” said Aguerre, who was born in Argentina but has lived in California for many years.

The World Junior Surfing Championships, for surfers 18 and under, are an International Surfing Association (ISA) event which has been sponsored by Quiksilver for the past three years. The 2007 Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships have already been confirmed for Portugal.

The ISA Junior World Surfing Championships were first held in 1980 and won by a young Tom Curren, who went on to win the professional surfing world title.

Hawai‘i is defending World Champion Team after winning gold at Huntington Beach. Other top teams with chances for medals this year include USA, Australia, South Africa and Brazil.

• Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or kauaisports@kauaipubco.com.

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