EASTERN Cape surfer Emma Smith gets a chance to test herself against the best when she competes in the World Junior Championships, starting in Santa Catarina, Brazil, this weekend.
The Billabong team rider earned her invitation to the world championships when Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) announced that an extra spot had opened up for a female surfer from Africa. Surfing South Africa (SSA) then nominated Smith as the top SA under-20 female surfer on the ASP World Rankings who had not already qualified.
The Jeffreys Bay surfer joins the powerful squad consisting of Diran Zakarian, Slade Prestwich, Dylan Lightfoot, David van Zyl, Michael February and Bianca Buitendag.
“This is a prestigious event in international junior surfing, with the likes of Australian Billabong team rider Laura Enever as a previous champion,” Smith said. “To be able to surf against the world’s top junior surfers is such an honour.
“It will be a great experience for me and my career as a professional surfer. To win would be such a great accomplishment.”
The annual World Junior Championships are considered a major stepping stone to a successful professional surfing career, with previous winners of the event including top pro surfers Andy Irons, Joel Parkinson, Jordy Smith and Enever.
The premier junior event will take place from Sunday to November 5 at Joaquina Beach, where the South Africans will take on their peers from the other six ASP regions – North and South America, Europe, Australasia, Hawaii and Japan.