California's Griffin Colapinto spent the better part of the week electrifying friends, foes and fans with his air game. His surfing looked tack-sharp even in the trickiest conditions. His run resulted in a runner-up finish, which was admittedly heartbreaking given the slow-moving Final heat, but Colapinto is already looking forward to his first full-time season on the Qualifying Series.
Hawaiian Cody Young backed up his recent Semifinal finish at the Pipe Invitational with a solid performance in Kiama. The explosive naturalfooter from Maui made it clear that he likes to run at full-throttle no matter what the conditions are. His power game carried him all the way to the Semifinals, where he eventually lost to event champion Ethan Ewing, but not before getting his point across.
South African surfers face a pretty big uphill battle getting noticed on the world stage. Their horrific exchange rate makes it close to impossible to travel in pursuit of points. So any opportunity to shine on the global stage is an important one, and Cape Town's Jordy Maree did a good job of getting noticed at Kiama. The flashy goofyfooter eliminated highly-touted U.S. hopeful Jake Marshall in Round Three.
The gorgeous South Coast of New South Wales is an endless collection of rolling green hills, crystal coves, cathedral headlands, beautiful back beaches and of course a wide variety of waves. While the swell was down this week at Bombo Beach, competitors had no problem finding gems up and down this wave-rich coastline.
Australian Reef Heazlewood was another standout in the early rounds. The 17-year-old goofyfooter from Australia's Sunshine Coast is part of a very deep bench on the Billabong squad. He ended up losing a close one to Hawaiian Finn McGill in the Quarterfinals. With one year left in his junior career, Heazlewood could be a threat for the 2017 title.
Ethan Ewing's incredible rise has been remarkable. This time last year few outside of his hometown of North Stradbroke Island realized his potential. Now the 18-year-old is about to set off on the Championship Tour with a World Junior Title under his belt, joining the ranks of Joel Parkinson, Gabriel Medina, Andy Irons, Adriano de Souza and Jordy Smith who all did the same.
Keep your eyes out for Brazil's Mateus Herdy. He's the nephew of former Championship Tour surfer Guilherme Herdy, but he looks a lot like the 15-year-old version of Bruce Irons thanks to his dynamic surfing, blond hair, and the Volcom logo. He already has a hefty dose of composure, and a full arsenal of aerial weapons. At 16, he's still got two more years in the junior ranks.
The World Junior Championship featured 54 of the globe's best junior talent, and the vast majority of them have already become friends. Experiences like this one make the bonds much stronger.
If Ethan Ewing was looking for an extra bit of confidence heading into his rookie season on the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour, he certainly found it in Kiama. The 18-year-old Australian was an obvious favorite for this year's World Junior Championship, and he didn't disappoint. Going up against the hottest junior surfers on the planet, Ewing showed poise beyond his years, capping his Junior career off with a well-deserved victory in Kiama.
Like Ewing, Macy Callaghan was no stranger to the podium heading into the World Junior Championship. And although the 16-year-old Australian has two more years on the junior series, her win this year could be a sign of bigger things to come. Callaghan finished No. 15 on the 2016 women's QS, which means she's not that far removed from having a shot at the elite world tour.
While a Round Four finish may not have been the result Marco Mignot was after at the World Junior Championship, the young Frenchman showed many signs of promise in the shifty Bombo Beach peaks. At just 16, the lanky regularfoot still has plenty of time to fill out and refine his silky smooth style.
South African regional champion Adin Masencamp was ultimately undone by an on-fire Finn McGill in Kiama, but not before blitzing through a few rounds with some great surfing. We're likely to be seeing a lot more of his crisp surfing in the future.
After a head-turning start at the World Junior Championship, local favorite Luke Wrice fell to eventual finalist, Griffin Colapinto. Keep your eyes peeled for this guy during the Australian QS leg, as he's a dangerous threat.
It's no secret that there's some serious talent coming out of Japan and young Yuji Nishi is one of the surfers leading the charge. He finished 2016 ranked No. 1 on the Japanese Junior Tour, earning a spot to compete in Kiama. Unfortunately, he went down to fellow countryman Josh Azuchi in Round Two.
Stevie Pittman was a bit of a dark horse heading into the World Junior Pro. And with Californians like Griffin Colapinto and Jake Marshall in the draw, the right coast native had a lot to prove. Despite clean cracks like this, Stevie went down early to Australian Sandon Whitaker. Now he'll focus on climbing the QS ladder in 2017.
Taina Hinkckel could be Brazil's next big female talent. After winning her region this year, her World Junior Championship campaign ended prematurely in Round Two. Nonetheless, Taina's polished style is a clear indicator of future success.
Following his breakout performance at the Pipeline trials a few short weeks ago, everyone already knew Finn McGill could perform in heavy surf. However, the Hawaiian's ability to maintain form in gutless Bombo Beach conditions was equally impressive. His Semifinal finish this year proved he's one of the most well-rounded 16-year-olds out there.
Minami Nonaka is another member of the Japanese contingent who showed flashes of brilliance in Kiama. The No. 2 ranked Japanese Junior layed into a handful of solid hacks before bowing out to Lucy Callister in Round Two.
After clinching the No. 1 spot on the Japanese Junior Tour in 2016, Minori Kawai was hungry to step up against the international field. Her smooth rail game took her all the way to the Quarterfinals where she put up a solid effort against Mahina Maeda.
2014 World Junior Champ Mahina Maeda found her form once again at this year's event. The Hawaiian capped her junior career with another finals appearance on the world stage, and in 2017 she's dead-set on qualifying for the women's Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour.
When it comes to competing, these top juniors don't give each other an inch during heats. But that doesn't mean they're above good sportsmanship. Ethan Ewing and Cody Young are examples of pure class both in and out of the water.
The future of Australian surfing is in good hands.