Sierra Kerr (AUS) and Jett Schilling (USA) won the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Hosted by Best Western and added their name to surfing history as WSL World Junior Champions. Kerr and Schilling overcame formidable fields to earn the World Junior Titles and claim their spots on the 2024 Challenger Series. Impressive showings from Zoe Benedetto (USA) and Jackson Bunch (HAW) earned them runner-up finishes after surmounting world-class opponents as they return to their respective Qualifying Series (QS) events in hopes of joining the 2024 Challenger Series contenders.

Kerr Kickstarts Competitive Surfing Legacy with World Junior Championship

A star-studded women’s Final featured one of the sport’s rising stars, Sierra Kerr (AUS), and current North America Qualifying Series (QS) No. 1, event wildcard, Zoe Benedetto (USA). A masterclass performance from Kerr’s signature progression and flair provided a near-perfect 9.00 (out of a possible 10) after opening the heat with a 7.83. Benedetto’s excellent 8.00 kept her in the heat, but slower conditions tested the Floridian’s patience and didn’t get the opportunity to perform before time expired.

“That was the craziest heat,” said Kerr. “It’s amazing to win. I feel like I haven’t been surfing that good this contest. I went in the Final just going to leave nothing on the table. I felt like I actually surfed good, so I was frothing. I wasn’t even expecting to qualify for the Challenger Series. I forgot that was a thing. That’s insane. Thank you to everyone who came and watched, and everyone that’s watching.”

In the 2022 SAMBAZON World Junior Championships, Sierra Kerr (AUS) established herself as a competitive threat with her Semifinal appearance and continues to push the boundaries of progressive surfing. Kerr backed herself up by winning the 2023 Australia/Oceania Pro Regional title and then showcased even more progression with a flawless run in Oceanside heading into the Final after a 16.17 heat total (out of a possible 20) victory over Talia Swindal (USA) in the Semifinals. Now, Kerr prepares for a big year ahead among the Challenger Series contenders and the opportunity to qualify for the 2025 Championship Tour (CT).

Benedetto and Bunch Earn Runner-up Finishes Amid World-Class Fields

An incredible run from wildcard Zoe Benedetto (USA) played the ultimate spoiler throughout competition all the way to the Final. Benedetto, the current North America Qualifying Series (QS) No. 1, surpassed reigning South America Regional Pro Junior victor Sol Aguirre (PER) in their Semifinal clash before her Final showdown with eventual WSL World Junior Champion Sierra Kerr (AUS). Now, Benedetto returns to the QS in search of maintaining her re-qualification place onto the 2024 Challenger Series.

“This week is my first World Juniors,” said Benedetto. “I couldn’t be more grateful for my team, my family, my friends, that support me through this. That final was like one of the highlights. I just felt really accomplished making it there. I felt not too pressured. Congrats to Sierra, she’s pushing women’s surfing so much. To share a Final with her is amazing. I’m really grateful. Can’t thank WSL enough, and everyone for making it a special weekend.”

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SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Women’s Final Results:
1 – Sierra Kerr (AUS) 16.83
2 – Zoe Benedetto (USA) 11.50

SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Men’s Final Results:
1 – Jett Schilling (USA) 16.23
2 – Jackson Bunch (HAW) 13.37

SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Women’s Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: Zoe Benedetto (USA) 10.17 DEF. Sol Aguirre (PER) 9.77
HEAT 2: Sierra Kerr (AUS) 16.17 DEF. Talia Swindal (USA) 12.26

SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Men’s Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: Jett Schilling (USA) 14.00 DEF. Levi Slawson (USA) 4.50
HEAT 2: Jackson Bunch (HAW) 16.63 DEF. Leo Casal (BRA) 13.33