World surfing event changes lives and puts Kiama on the map

A delegation of the world’s top ranked junior surfers will return home as global ambassadors for Kiama and Australia after competing in the world’s premier junior surfing competition – the Jeep World Junior Championship.

The elite young surfers, representing countries as diverse as France, United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, United States, South Africa, Tahiti, Brazil, and Peru, described the event in Kiama as one of the best organised and most important surfing competitions of their lives.

“Many of us have travelled long distances, but it’s been worth the journey to get here and be part of this Kiama event,”  

“The accommodation, transport, food and warm welcome have made this an excellent experience to remember and to build on.” one of the UK’s leading teenage surfers, Ellie Turner said.

As well as bringing economic benefits and international awareness to host towns and communities, events like the Jeep World Junior Championship provide new opportunities for young people.

“To qualify for this event in Kiama is a huge accomplishment and identifies competitors as among the best in the world, and provides a pathway for a career as a professional surfer and that can change lives,” CEO of Surfing NSW Luke Madden said.

“To have an event like this at Kiama, I think is good for making Kiama popular, because it attracts surfers and followers from around the world and it becomes famous with that.”

Lives like that of Jhonny Guerrero, a young surfer from Peru who survived a drive by shooting and has overcome an impoverished background to compete at Kiama, with assistance from the Australian Embassy in Peru and training from top Australian coaches Martin Dunn and Tim McDonald.

“The people here (in Kiama) are very nice and respectful, and full of good vibes,” Guerrero said.

“We become ambassadors and friends of Kiama and Australia.

“The event organisation is incredible. There are a lot of cameras, and you can see all the replays and analyse your moves to see what’s good, and what’s wrong. 

“You have all you need; the good food and shelter and facilities so you can concentrate on competing.”

German Aguirre accompanied his 14-year-old daughter from Peru to compete in Kiama.

“The world championship at Kiama get known by the world and the fact the best surfers compete on the Australian beaches makes it even more interesting for travellers around the globe,” he said.

The Kiama event featured some of Australia’s finest young surfers, including 2017 Oceania Regional Junior Champion Reef Heazlewood, 14-year-old Zahli Kelly, and Macy Callaghan, one of the most talented junior surfers in the world, who is defending her crown as Women’s World Junior Champion. 

“If it wasn’t for the respective state bodies putting their heart and soul into every event, then I don’t think I would have had the opportunities I’ve received over the last few years,” Macy said.