The World Junior Championship are a window into the future of professional surfing. Each year, 36 male and 18 female of the world's best surfers under 18 years old fight it out for the ultimate junior title. In January, the European crew heading to Kiama will be lead by the 2016 European Junior Champions Teresa Bonvalot and Titouan Boyer.
If you're not familiar with these two, take a sneak peek below into how they got their hands on the European Junior crown.
Teresa Bonvalot: Portugal's Hope
Teresa is very much a surfing prodigy in Portugal, she received her first wildcard in a CT event in 2013, at age 13, and has since been included every year as a wildcard in the Cascais Women's Pro. She has been steadily rising through the Junior ranks culminating with a near-perfect 2016 season to clinch a first-ever regional Junior title.
She also finished the QS season in an encouraging 28th position and represents Portugal's first chance to have a female surfer amongst the world's best. The talented goofyfooter, however, is taking things step by step. Most likely her eyes will be set on the next World Junior Championships in Australia where she'll be looking to improve on a 3rd place claimed last January, at home in Portugal.
"Last year I got second and I felt like it was my year because I had a great start to the season, but a couple bad results ended my chances," she said. "This year I'm super happy to finally win my first European title and to make it early enough that I don't have to battle at the very last event. It wasn't easy, a lot of the girls are surfing great and I had to work a lot to achieve this, so the feeling is even sweeter now."
Titouan Boyer: The Dark Horse
You wouldn't have picked Titouan to win the European Junior title in 2016. The Saint Martin native, who's now residing in Brittany in northwest France, badly injured his knee midway through last season and had to practically learn to walk again before he could think of going out on a board.
But the lighthearted Caribbean surfer did not let his unfortunate training accident hinder his competitive dream. He followed the slow path of rehabilitation all the way up to a maiden Junior QS win earlier this season in France, and ultimately the European JQS title when the season wrapped up early after his second win at the Junior Pro Sopela. Titouan will now have a final chance to make waves in the Kiama World Juniors next January before moving onto the QS grind.
"I'm happy to win the title and I feel like I deserved it with everything that I had to go through last year," he said. "My goal coming in to the season was to qualify for the World Juniors so I did that and the title was just icing on the cake. I can't wait to go to Australia and battle with some of the best young surfers in the world coming up, it should be interesting and fun!"
Catch Teresa, Titouan, and the rest of the world's rising stars when the World Junior Championship kick-off on January 4