“The Verizon Wireless Hawaii Junior World Team is looking towards a very bright future,” exclaimed Rainos Hayes team captain. Last year’s 2nd place Silver medal finish gives us some advantage in the overall seeding, however we are a team in transition and the rebuilding process has just begun. As our team matures we should be able to compete alongside favorites like Australia, Brazil, France, South Africa, host country New Zealand as well as the United States.
The challenge this year was an interesting one. With the need to find a completely new group of surfers in the under 16 division, “We had about 7 youth who showed amazing promise and drive to compete on a worldwide podium. Yet we could only select 4 of these surfers,” remarked Hayes. Hayes and Kahea Hart along with Bert Ishimaru kept a sharp eye out in a grueling set of training sessions that included inter-action, camaraderie, surf heat scenarios, as well as maturity, stamina, traveling experience and recent contest finishes. It was a tedious process over a three week period. Hayes furthered, “The group we selected holds much promise, yet we are quite green
around the edges.” Koa Smith is considered the competitive veteran within the group. He holds titles, has traveled his entire life, and is accustomed to pressurized finals. His choice was rather easy. Other riders selected however include the youngest rider in the bunch, Ian Gentil who moves far exceed his size. Ian will grow in height and weight over the next few years, and yet his surfing today contains radical maneuvers deep angles of attack and mind blowing quickness that impresses most judges. Gentil is only 13 years old! Cain Daley and Isaiah Moniz were initially considered sleepers among this bunch. Both have yet to travel to compete in a world class
setting however their size, their power, their maturity, and their desire during the training sessions impressed the selection committee. Thus this group of young up and comers will present a brand new look for the Hawaiian team. We are all very excited and the team’s future looks quite good.
The junior team of under 18 year olds features three riders who have moved up from the under 16 division, and each is a veteran ISA competitor. Keanu Asing brings with him last years under 16 World Championship Crown. Asing is joined by last years semi finalist in the under 16 division, Kaimana Jaquias. Both these surfers along with power broker Ezekiel Lau are boosting into an older more challenging lineup that will up their game. They will be lead by three-time veteran Tanner Hendrickson. This years older
division has an alternate team rider that can amply fill in, in case of injury or emergency. Nathan Carvalho brings experience, power, and polish and will be ready to step in if necessary.
The Girls Under 18 division did quite well last year in Ecuador with youngster Alessa Quizon gaining a 3rd place in the world championship finals. Leila Hurst made it to the semi finals and Malia Manuel and Nage Melamed finished 7th and 9th in the world respectively. Each of these surfers have years ahead of them in the under 18 division and there¹s but a handful of riders in the world that can compete with these young ladies. They are capable of presenting a jam packed Hawaiian final if the swells and
timing cooperate. Each of these ladies has recent accomplishments and titles to their credit, and they are all continuing to get better and better. Their experience will keep them mentally sharp over the 8 days of competition. Hope is that this will prove to be the difference on the podium.
Hayes beamed, “The horizon looks bright for the Hawaiians with New Zealand and points beyond just coming into focus. And with a little luck we just might find ourselves feathering near the top and in contention during
what we consider a rebuilding year.”
The team receives support from Hawaii’s Verizon Wireless and is now in its second year of title sponsorship. Hard Rock Café has supported the team for a 3rd consecutive year. Hawaii is truly grateful. We are also proud to announce that H2Overdrive, an innovative new sports hydration drink, has climbed on board with a three-year commitment to the team and its staff as well as the individual athletes. With this support base, our world team program now has a chance to bring aloha to the world stage, and truly
represent the birthplace of surfing.