The World Surf League (WSL) North America Junior Tour ended on November 13, 2016 with the Soup Bowl Pro Junior, where the regional championships went to Nolan Rapoza of the USA and Costa Rica’s Leilani McGonagle. A first time win for both of them, it earned the two young surfers places in the World Junior Championships.
Rapoza puts his achievement down to maturing his technique and heat strategy, which he expects to help him in future efforts as well. His newly-earned title is affirmation for him that he can be consistent, with the right mindset. It’s a big confidence booster for him and an inspiration to surf smarter in upcoming events.
Also representing North America at the World Junior Championships for men will be runner-up Kei Kobayashi, third placer Jake Marshall, and Che Allan who placed fourth.
Leilani McGonagle took the regional championship title at the Junior Women’s Tour in Barbados, where she trailed against Maddie Peterson and Bethany Zelasco up until the last moments, when a lucky wave let her leverage her backhand to take the victory.
McGonagle expressed her pride at being able to represent Costa Rica and hopes to inspire other young people to travel and compete. She also credits her family for introducing her to surfing and looks up to her brother Noe Mar for inspiration in perfecting her art.
Joining Leilani in the World Junior Championships in Kiama, New South Wales will be Carlsbad’s Alyssa Spencer. Both young ladies are looking forward to their first trip down under.