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Canada wins historic Junior surf medal at an international competition

Erin Brooks, 14, nabs Gold for Team Canada at the ISA World Junior Championships in El Salvador

Erin Brooks is Canada’s first Junior Surf World Champion.

The Texas-born 14-year-old made history on Sunday, June 5 at the International Surf Association (ISA) World Junior Championships in El Salvador by outshining the competition in the Girls U16 division to win Gold and Canada’s first Junior surf medal.

“All of the girls are surfing so good at this event and I’m so happy to come out on top,” said Brooks after winning the Final.

Bella Kenworthy of the USA started the Final well, opening with a 7.17 and backing it up with a 7.57, however it was no match for the critical progression of the Canadian, reads a press release from the ISA.

“Looking to the rights of La Bocana surf for the first time in the nine-day long Junior competition, Brooks unleashed a series of under-the-lip hooks for an 8.60, before switching back to the left and allowing her forehand to garner an 8.17,” reads the ISA press release.

Brooks lives in Haleiwa on the North Shore of Hawaii. Her dad, Jeff Brooks, is a dual Canadian-American citizen. From a young age, she’s been turning heads for her effortless air game at the Waco Wavepool in Texas.

Erin Brooks with her dad, Jeff Brooks. (Pablo Franco / ISA photo)

“I’ve been very fortunate that I learned to surf in Hawaii and have had many amazing coaches and professional surfers as mentors like Bethany Hamilton, Shane Dorian, Shane Beschen, Myles Padaca, Kahea Hart and many others,” Brooks told the Westerly News.

“I was a gymnast when I was little and started surfing at nine years old. Aerials always looked fun to me so it was something I worked on early using skateboards and also trampolines. I surf every day at least four hours a day and also do some form of exercise every day,” said the young surf talent.

After winning the Final, Brooks was cheered and carried out of the surf by family, friends, plus a team of 12 Canadian athletes strong, including Tofino surfers: Chloe Platenius, Ocean Green, Sanoa Olin, Jasmine Porter and Reed Platenius.

“I enjoy competing, but I’ve skipped a lot of amateur contests the last few years so I could instead use those contest costs to travel and surf different types of waves around the world. I’m very confident in my ability and I’m very comfortable in the ocean, but I’m still learning about contest surfing. The Canadian coaches Shannon Brown, Albie Sears, and Dom Domic really helped with heat strategy throughout the contest,” she said.

The 2022 ISA Junior Worlds featured a record 419 athletes and 45 national teams. Team Gold went to Hawaii, the fourth time Hawaii has claimed the honour, Team Silver went to Silver went Australia, Bronze was USA and Copper was France. Team Canada broke through the Top 10 claiming ninth spot in the overall ranking. It is the third time Team Canada has cracked the Top 10.

“There is lots of room to continue to improve individual results across the team. Erin winning individual Gold is the main reason the team stayed in the Top 10. The U18 Boys were a big part of it by placing seventh overall, ” said Dom Domic, Surf Canada’s high performance director.

He said the Junior Team selection protocol is on Surf Canada’s website.

“We started talking about (Erin surfing for Canada) three years ago when Sanoa told me about her,” said Domic.

Brooks jetted off to a Red Bull training camp in California the morning after winning Junior Worlds. She’s en route to Hawaii for a World Surf League contest and then will head to Indonesia to chase barrelling surf for two months. While the young athlete is stoked to be following her Olympic dreams with the maple leaf on her chest, she has yet to catch waves in Canada.

“I’ve only worn a 4/3 (wetsuit) and booties. I’m looking forward to going to Tofino to surf with my friends Mathea Olin, Sanoa Olin and Ocea Green soon. The majority of our team lives in Tofino, so it will be really fun to surf with all of them,” she said.

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